The Boxer is just like any other dog breed: loyal to its person/people, intelligent, and driven to please. But they’re also very high-energy, stubborn, and high-maintenance in terms of overall health. If you’ve done your research on the breed, you know they are prone to allergies and need regular exercise. A lot of health conditions are manageable with a good diet, so plan on skipping the cheap brands of food when you bring a Boxer puppy home and learning more about canine nutrition than you ever thought you would!
The Building Blocks of Boxer Nutrition
Protein Requirements in Boxers
Protein is always number one on the list of the nutritional needs of carnivores, but it’s particularly important in Boxers. A well-cared for Boxer is nothing but muscle with very little body fat. To maintain all of this muscle, they need a quality source of protein in an appropriate ratio.
Chicken is the most common protein source found in commercial dog foods, but it’s also the most common food allergen for dogs. Since Boxers are inherently predisposed to allergies and allergic reactions, it might serve you well to skip the chicken or other poultry-based foods and try something like fish or lamb.
When you read the label, the food should have at least 25 percent protein. You really don’t need to go much higher than that unless your vet has specifically told you to look for a high protein food. Too much protein is bad for the kidneys, but excess protein turns to fat.
Boxer Carbohydrates Requirements
Carbohydrates are necessary for energy, and since Boxers are a high-energy breed, they blossom on a diet that contains complex carbohydrates. Unfortunately, a large number of dog food brands use simple carbs like corn as carbohydrate fillers, and they offer little to no nutritional value to dogs.
Look for a commercial food that uses high-quality complex carbs. In dog food, these can be as simple as brown rice, or they can be as fancy as blueberries and quinoa. Sweet potatoes are becoming exceedingly popular in higher-end brands of food. Not only are they considered a complex carb, but they’re extremely dense in nutritional value. You really can’t go wrong with them!
Dietary Management of Health Problems in Boxers
Bloat in Boxers
Boxers are considered a deep-chested breed, so they’re automatically at a higher risk of developing a condition called bloat, or gastric dilatation volvulus. Sometimes the stomach fills up with air (gastric dilatation) and twists over on itself (volvulus). It’s 100 percent fatal if it isn’t treated immediately by a veterinarian, and even with treatment, a good outcome isn’t guaranteed.
Signs of bloat include:
- A bloated abdomen
- Pacing/unable to get comfortable
- Pale, white, or blue gums
- Coughing up white foam
What causes bloat?
Unfortunately, it isn’t known what causes bloat. Experts have a few theories, but none of them have been medically proven. Deep chested breeds are just more likely anatomically to end up bloating even if you’re careful to avoid the possible causes.
Potential causes of bloat are:
Feeding or watering your dog right before or immediately after vigorous exercise
Eating or drinking their food too quickly
Feeding your dog with their bowls on the ground or below chest level
Joint Disorders in Boxers
Due to years of breeding genetically unsound dogs, Boxers are at a higher risk of developing arthritis or hip/shoulder dysplasia. Unless you get a puppy from a breeder who has screened their breeding dogs for these diseases, there’s no way to prevent them from occurring.
Keeping dogs at a healthy weight is always going to be the best way to protect their joints. A diet with complex carbs, a moderate amount of protein, and healthy fats are all great ways to reduce their chances of developing these orthopedic diseases or helping keep their symptoms regulated if they already exist.
Boxers are fairly easy in terms of what you should feed them They don’t need anything special to thrive, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t invest in a good quality food. Read the labels and talk to your veterinarian about the best nutrition for your individual dog. With the right diet, your dog will live a long, healthy life.