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Author Topic: Boxer's Health  (Read 5296 times)
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Love Boxers... Love Life!

« on: May 29, 2009, 04:34:07 PM »

What health risks is the boxer prone to?

Boxers are prone to a number of health conditions:

    * Aortic stenosis/subaortic stenosis (AS/SAS)
    * Boxer cardiomyopathy
    * Hip dysplasia
    * Hypothyroidism
    * Corneal dystrophy
    * Demodectic mange
    * Cancer
    * Bloat
    * Allergies

Some of these are genetic in origin and, with devastating consequences, it is important that all breeding stock are properly screened for these diseases.

What is a genetic disease?

A genetic disorder is one in which an abnormality in the genetic make-up (the genome) of the individual plays a significant role in causing a disease or condition. While some disorders can occur as the result of spontaneous mutation, most genetic disorders are inherited. These diseases are heart-breaking because they can impact severely on the quality and length of life of the affected dog - who is generally a well-loved family member by the time the condition is apparent.

The frequency of inherited conditions can be greatly reduced through good breeding practices. For this to occur, we need to know how the disease is inherited, how to identify the condition as early as possible, and ways to recognize carriers of the disease who are not clinically affected. Where testing regimes are available, it is important that all potential breeding stock are screened. Animals found to be affected by, or are carriers of a disease should not used for breeding.

Genetically inheritable diseases prevalent in boxers

    * Aortic stenosis/sub-aortic stenosis (AS/SAS) is one of the most common heart defects occurring in boxers. Stenosis is narrowing of the aorta, right below the aortic valve, which forces the heart to work harder to supply blood. Reduced blood flow can result in fainting and even sudden death. The disease is inherited but its mode of transmission is not known at this time. Diagnosis must be made by a veterinary cardiologist, after detection of a heart murmur. Breeding dogs must be properly screened for this disease and affected dogs must not be bred from.

    * Boxer cardiomyopathy is an electrical conduction disorder which causes the heart to beat erratically (to have an arrhythmia) some of the time and can result in weakness, collapse or sudden death. These arrhythmias are difficult to detect with any certainty by listening to the heart with a stethoscope, unless they are very frequent thus the first sign of the disease may be fatal. Cardiomyopathy is a genetically inheritable condition with devastating results. Because a dog cannot be cleared of cardiomyopathy by a routine veterinary examination and the disease may not show itself until after a dog reaches breeding age, it is important that all breeding stock are properly screened for this disease.

    Boxer cardiomyopathy is a distinct disease from the dilated cardiomyopathy common in some other breeds. Other names for BCM are Boxer Arrythmic Cardiomyopathy (BAC), Familial Ventricular Arrhythmia (FVA) and Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy (ARVC).

    * Hip dysplasia is an inheritable malformation of the hip joint leading to osteoarthritis. The hip joint is a ball and socket joint, where the top of the thigh bone (femur) fits into a socket in the pelvis. The bones are held in place by ligaments. Hip dysplasia occurs when the socket is poorly formed or the ligaments are loose, enabling the ball of the femur to subluxate – to slide part way out of its socket. Over time this causes degeneration of the joint (osteoarthritis) and the dog suffers pain and becomes weak and lame in the hind end. Hip dysplasia is a progressive disease, meaning that it becomes worse with time.

    Hip dysplasia has polygenic inheritance, meaning it is caused by the inheritance of multiple genes. It is not yet known how many, or which genes are involved. Factors that can make the disease worse include excess weight, excess or prolonged exercise before maturity, a fast growth rate, and high-calorie or supplemented diets.

    * Hypothyroidism describes an inactive thyroid gland which can be responsible for such conditions as epilepsy, alopecia or hair loss, obesity, lethargy, hyperpigmentation, pyoderma and other skin conditions. While not considered life threatening, the quality of life for a dog suffering from hypothyroidism is much reduced.

    * Corneal dystrophy is an inherited abnormality that affects one or more layers of the cornea. Both eyes are usually affected, although not necessarily symmetrically. Chronic or recurring shallow ulcers may result, depending on the corneal layers affected.

    * Demodectic mange. The demodex mite lives on the skin of all dogs, and is passed to puppies by their dam. In healthy dogs, this mite causes no problems. However, demodectic mange can occur when a dog has a weakened or compromised immune system. The American Academy of Veterinary Dermatology passed a resolution in 1983 suggesting that all dogs that develop generalised demodex should be neutered or spayed as there is a genetic link to the development of generalised demodectic mange.

    Demodectic mange can occur in localised form, which is characterised by a few spots that do not itch. These patchs usually appear on head, neck and fore limbs. Ninety percent of those puppies that develop localised demodex will heal on their own. Ten percent of those puppies will go on to have generalised demodex.

    * Cancer. Boxers are particularly prone to the development of mast cell tumours, lymphoma and brain tumours. White boxers, and coloured boxers with white markings should be protected from the sun as they are liable to develop skin cancer if allowed to burn.

    * Bloat or Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) is a very serious condition that occurs when the stomach becomes distended with air, and then twists on itself while dilated. This interferes with the blood supply digestive organs, blocks the passage of food, thus leading to worse bloat. The distended stomach impedes the normal return of blood to the heart, causing a decrease in blood pressure and drastically reduced cardiac output. Blood/oxygen-deprived tissues start to die, releasing toxins into the blood stream which among other adverse effects, cause serious disturbances in heart rhythms (cardiac arrhythmias). Dogs affected by bloat can die within hours.

    Dogs most susceptible to bloat are the large, deep-chested breeds, in whom the stomach appears to be more mobile within the abdomen. Risk factors are: hereditary predisposition, over-eating (large meals), rapid eating, raised feeders, pre-moistening of dry food preserved with citric acid, feeding dry food with a fat in the top four ingredients. The risk of bloat increases with age. Feeding a food with a rendered meat ingredient, inclusive of bone, in the first four ingredients decreases the risk of bloat.

    The Purdue veterinary research team, who conducted a research study in 2000 into the risk factors associated with bloat concluded these are the things you can do to help prevent bloat:

    a.. The strongest recommendation to prevent GVD (bloat) should be to not breed a dog that has a first degree relative that has had bloat. This places a special responsibility on an owner to inform the breeder should their dog bloat.
    b.. Do not raise the feeding dish.
    c.. SLOW the dog's speed of eating.

    * Allergies. Boxers are rather prone to allergies, which can be environmental or food related. These often translate into itchy, scaly and sometimes infected skin. Boxers do not tend to do well on foods that have a high grain content, particularly those including corn, wheat or beet pulp.

    * Deafness. About 20% of white boxers are deaf, due to their lack of pigmentation and suppression of blood supply to the cochlea (inner ear). White boxers should not be bred since the genes responsible for deafness in whites are inheritable. Breeding dogs that carry the extreme white spotting gene will cause pigment dilution in all offspring and increase the incidence of deafness throughout the breed.


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« on: May 29, 2009, 04:34:07 PM »

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