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Arthritis in Boxer Dogs

Arthritis in Boxer Dogs

Boxers are at high risk for osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that leads to a loss of the cartilage that cushions the ends of the bone. The breakdown of cartilage results in inflammation, pain, and degeneration of the joint.

Like their human counterparts, this can reduce quality of life and make enjoying regular activities more difficult.

Boxer arthritis supplement joint hip

Risk Factors for Arthritis in Boxers

Boxers rank number rank in the top 20 most popular breeds in 2022 according to the American Kennel Club. They are known for their Loyalty, affection, intelligence, and work ethic. Their reputation for having a protective and patient nature makes them great for families with children as well as great watchdogs. Boxers are predisposed to osteoarthritis due to specific genetic vulnerabilities.

  • Hip dysplasia – This condition occurs due to an improper fit between the ball (head of femur) and hip socket joint that allows it to grate against the hip socket leading to pain, accelerated wear and tear, and joint degeneration. Boxers can be born with hip dysplasia and improper breeding increases the chances of the condition (org, 2022).
  • Elbow dysplasia – This condition occurs due to an improper fit between the three bones of the elbow: the radius, ulna, and humerus (org, 2022).
  • Obesity - Overweight Boxer dogs can often get arthritis as their bodies speed development and extra bone around the joint is built up. Note that a healthy male should weigh 65 to 85 pounds, while a healthy female Boxer generally weighs 15 pounds less (AKC, 2022).

In some cases, a condition can initially mimic osteoarthritis.

  • Degenerative Myelopathy is a neurological condition in which the immune system attacks the protective myelin sheath of the spinal cord resulting in hind limb weakness and eventually paralysis. Boxers are in the top three breeds that get this condition (ABI, n.d; Shelton et al., 2012).

Other risk factors that predispose your dog to osteoarthritis include:

  • Age, particularly middle-age to senior dogs
  • Repetitive stress from athletic activities such as agility, flyball, or diving
  • Injuries such as fractures or ligament tears
  • Prior diagnosis of hip or elbow dysplasia
  • Infections that affect the joints, such as Lyme Disease
  • Improper nutrition especially in puppies due to key bone developments at this age

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Recommended Health Tests for Boxers include:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Elbow Evaluation
  • Thyroid Evaluation
  • Degenerative Myelopathy DNA Test
  • AS/SAS Cardio
  • Aortic Valve Disease
  • Boxer Cardiomyopathy
  • ARVC DNA Test

*(AKC, 2022)

Hip and elbow dysplasia should be regularly screened since this can leave this breed vulnerable to osteoarthritis and other health concerns.


Signs of Osteoarthritis in Boxers

Several signs may indicate your pet has osteoarthritis. Keep in mind that our companions are genetically inclined to hide their discomfort so regular checkups at the vet are important for the early detection of osteoarthritis. If you notice your dog exhibiting signs of osteoarthritis, have your dog evaluated by a veterinarian, who will perform a full physical examination which includes palpation of the joints, range of motion assessment, and X-rays of the affected joints.

  • Dragging of rear paws
  • Knuckling-over on rear toes
  • Development of sores on top of rear paws
  • Abnormal wear of the rear toenails
  • Weakness in the hind legs
  • Difficulty walking, rising, and jumping
  • Ataxia (problems balancing, uncontrolled movements)
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Incontinence
  • Partial and then complete paralysis of the hind legs
  • Followed by partial and then complete paralysis of the front legs
  • This can progress to trouble chewing and swallowing, and difficulty breathing


Supporting Joint Health in Boxers

Joint functionality is impacted by many factors such as weight, activity, and nutrition. Additionally, supplementation with PCQ has been shown to provide significant benefits that result in a better quality of life for your companion. Remember, before beginning any new regimen discuss all treatment options with your veterinarian to ensure the best outcome for your pet.


  • Weight control plays the most significant role in OA management. In addition to the increased wear on joints due to excessive weight, fat releases inflammatory compounds that further contribute to joint degeneration. An ideal body weight allows you to 1) feel your dog’s ribs but not see them; 2) see an hourglass figure when viewed from above; 3) see a tucked-up belly when viewed from the side*.


  • Limit high-impact activities such as running or jumping which can lead to more inflammation and pain. Replace these activities with controlled activities like leash walks. Encourage joint stability and muscle strengthening with low impact consistent exercise*.


  • Range of motion exercises, therapeutic exercises, and aqua therapy such as an underwater treadmill or swimming, can help to improve joint mobility, increase muscle mass, and exercise endurance*.


*(ACVS, 2022)

Supplements for Boxers

  • Common supplements for supporting joint health include glucosamine and chondroitin. A combination of glucosamine and chondroitin was shown in a randomized, double-blind, positive controlled, multi-center trial of 35 dogs to improve scores for pain, weight-bearing, and severity of the condition by day 70 (McCarthy et al, 2007).


  • DHA and EPA from marine sources were shown in one study to suppress matrix degradation in cartilage explants. However, they were not able to reduce the expression of inflammatory cytokines IL1B and (TNF)-a (Buddhachat et al, 2017).


  • Supplementing with Vital Pet Sciences PCQ Pet™. The breakdown of cartilage leads to an inflammatory cascade that causes further loss and degeneration of the joint.

    Good nutrition provides important building components for joints. However, inflammation will continue to contribute to joint breakdown if it is not adequately addressed. The mechanisms involved in inflammation involve multiple pathways. Therefore, effective supplementation will be multimodal in action.

    PCQ Pet™ impacts three major mediators of inflammation: nuclear factor (NF)-kB, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-a, and cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 via peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR)-a.



In January 2020, preliminary data was announced from a landmark study on PCQ Pet™ in older dogs at Texas A&M Veterinary School.

In the clinical study, older dogs taking PCQ Pet experienced the following:

  1. 58% reduction in pain interference
  2. 57% improvement in quality of life
  3. 32% reduction in pain severity

The university findings were considered astonishing by the scientific research team, who stated that the effects were "better than glucosamine". 




Disclaimer: The above statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.



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