Have you noticed that your Boxer is scratching, suffering from ear issues, or has ongoing general stomach upset?
Suspect that food allergies are to blame?
It’s quite likely.
But what foods are most likely to trigger the boxer breed?
How do you know what foods to include and, perhaps more importantly, to exclude?
Well, here is everything you will want to know and consider.
Common Food Allergies in Boxers
While every dog is different, some common allergens seem to affect Boxers more than other breeds.
Let’s dive into the top five allergens that can trigger an allergic reaction in Boxers.
Chicken is a common allergen for Boxers because of its protein structure.
The proteins found in chicken can be difficult for some dogs to digest, particularly if they are cooked, causing an immune response.
Contamination, such as bacterial or chemical residues, can also lead to allergic reactions.
Additionally, the higher fat content in certain chicken cuts may exacerbate allergies in susceptible dogs.
Lastly, vaccines administered to chickens might leave traces in the meat, potentially causing sensitivities in Boxers.
Beef, another popular protein in dog food, is a common allergen for Boxers, for the reasons also cited above (the way it has been cooked, contamination, high-fat cuts, or vaccines given to cows).
I remember my friend’s Boxer, Tyson, who had a terrible time with beef. He’d scratch and bite himself until his skin was raw.
Once his owner switched him to a beef-free diet, Tyson’s symptoms improved significantly.
Dairy products contain proteins, such as casein and whey, which can be problematic for Boxers with sensitivities.
These proteins can be difficult for some dogs to digest, leading to an immune response and subsequent allergic reactions.
Additionally, lactose, a sugar found in dairy products, can cause gastrointestinal issues in dogs with lactose intolerance.
Wheat is a carbohydrate commonly used as a filler or binder in dog food.
It contains gluten, a protein that can cause allergic reactions in some dogs, including Boxers.
Gluten sensitivity can lead to inflammation in the gut, making it difficult for the dog to absorb nutrients properly.
This can result in gastrointestinal issues, skin problems, and other allergy symptoms.
Moreover, wheat is often used in lower-quality dog foods, which can increase the likelihood of exposure and sensitization for Boxers.
Soy is a plant-based protein source often used in dog food as a cheap alternative to animal proteins.
It contains various proteins and compounds that can trigger an immune response in sensitive dogs, including Boxers.
Furthermore, soy is often genetically modified, which might contribute to its potential allergenic properties.
How To Confirm Your Boxer Is Suffering From Food Allergies
Recognizing the signs of food allergies in your Boxer is essential for early intervention and treatment.
While symptoms may vary from dog to dog, here are some common indicators that your Boxer might be suffering from a food allergy, and for you to confirm it.
One of Boxers’ most prevalent signs of food allergies is skin irritation.
This can manifest as excessive itching, redness, hot spots, rashes, or even hair loss.
If your Boxer is constantly scratching or licking themselves, it could be due to an allergic reaction to something in their diet.
Frequent ear infections can be another indicator of food allergies in Boxer dogs.
Allergens can cause inflammation in the ear canal, leading to infections and discomfort.
If your Boxer is shaking their head, scratching their ears, or has a foul-smelling discharge, they may have an ear infection caused by a food allergy.
Food allergies can also cause gastrointestinal issues in Boxers.
Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, and excessive gas.
If your Boxer is experiencing these symptoms, it’s essential to consult with your veterinarian to determine if a food allergy could be the culprit.
Swollen or Irritated Paws
Boxers with food allergies may also have swollen or irritated paws.
They might chew or lick their paws excessively, causing further irritation and discomfort.
This behavior can be a sign that your dog is reacting to an allergen in their food.
Though less common, some Boxers with food allergies may experience respiratory symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, or difficulty breathing.
If you notice these signs in your Boxer, consult your veterinarian immediately, as it could indicate a more severe reaction.
Finally, food allergies can cause behavioral changes in your Boxer.
They may become more lethargic, irritable, or anxious due to the discomfort caused by their allergy symptoms.
If you observe any unusual changes in your dog’s behavior, discussing the possibility of food allergies with your veterinarian is worth discussing.
What to Feed a Boxer with Food Allergies
Once you’ve identified the allergens affecting your Boxer, adjusting their diet is important. Here are some guidelines on what to feed a Boxer with food allergies:
Choose Specific Allergy Safe Food
Certain dog foods are designed to minimize the risk of triggering allergies.
Look for formulas that use alternative protein sources such as lamb, duck, or fish, and avoid common allergens like chicken, beef, wheat, and soy.
The best dog foods here are based on natural, whole and a limited number of ingredients.
Looking for a recommendation? Start here: Best Dog Food For Boxers With Allergies
Opt For Limited Ingredient Foods
Limited ingredient dog foods contain fewer components, making pinpointing and avoiding allergens easier.
These diets often use a single protein and carbohydrate sources to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction.
Consider A Raw Diet
Preparing your Boxer’s meals at home allows you to have full control over the ingredients they consume.
Consult with your veterinarian to ensure you’re providing a balanced and nutritious diet, and for the specific meats and ratios to offer.
Supplement With Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation and improve skin health in dogs with allergies.
Adding a fish oil supplement or flaxseed oil to your Boxer’s diet may help alleviate their symptoms.
Be Careful With Treats Too
Be cautious when giving your Boxer treats, as many contain allergenic ingredients.
Opt for whole, natural treats or make your own using dog-safe, allergy-friendly ingredients.
How to Transition a Boxer onto Non-Allergenic Food
When you’ve found a suitable non-allergenic food for your Boxer, it’s essential to gradually transition them onto the new diet.
Abrupt changes in diet can lead to gastrointestinal upset, so it’s best to take it slow.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to transition your Boxer onto a non-allergenic diet:
Step 1: Consult with Your Veterinarian
Before making any significant changes to your Boxer’s diet, it’s crucial to consult with your veterinarian.
They can help you determine the best course of action and guide you on suitable food options for your dog’s needs.
Step 2: Gradually Introduce the New Food
To avoid upsetting your Boxer’s stomach:
- Start by mixing a small amount of the new non-allergenic food with their current food.
- For the first few days, use a ratio of 25% new food to 75% old food.
- Observe your dog for any adverse reactions or changes in their behavior.
Step 3: Increase the Ratio of New Food
If your Boxer is tolerating the new food well, gradually increase the ratio of new food to old food.
After a few more days, you can use a 50-50 mix. Continue monitoring your dog for any signs of discomfort or worsening allergy symptoms.
Step 4: Almost There
By now, your Boxer should be adjusting well to the new diet.
You can now feed them a 75% new food to 25% old food mix.
During this time, keep an eye on their stools, energy levels, and overall health.
Step 5: Complete the Transition
After about two weeks, your Boxer should be fully transitioned onto the non-allergenic food.
Continue monitoring their health and allergy symptoms to ensure the new diet works well for them.
Remember, patience is key when transitioning your Boxer onto a new diet.
It may take some time for their body to adjust and for their allergy symptoms to subside.
Don’t be disheartened if you don’t see immediate results; every dog is different, and healing takes time.
Being aware of common food allergens for Boxers and learning how to adjust their diet accordingly will help you resolve many unpleasant symtpoms that your dog is likely experiencing.
But rest assured, with the right approach, and a few simple dietary changes, you should find that a lot of these symptoms quickly clear up, and their health in general, greatly improves.
Boxers can be allergic to various meats, with chicken and beef being the most common. Other potential allergens include lamb, pork, and fish, although these are less frequent.
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.