Lumps and Bumps
Compared to humans, dogs in general are thirty-five times more likely to develop skin cancer, four times as likely to develop a breast tumor, eight times as likely to suffer from bone cancer, and twice as likely to develop leukemia. Given that boxers are prone to a variety of cancers and other tumors, it is best to start to examine your boxer early for lumps and bumps, preferably while he's a puppy.
Examining Your Boxer
It's a good idea to get your pup used to being massaged by making it a common practice to run your hands over every square inch of his body. He should learn to stand perfectly still during the exam and to accept handling so you can incorporate this health prevention with basic training. If you do feel a bump, take him to your veterinarian as soon as possible. It is entirely possible that the bump will be a benign histiocytoma, to which boxers are very prone, especially as youngsters, but you want to be certain.
If it is not a benign tumor or a grade one mast cell tumor, your vet is likely to refer you to a veterinary oncologist. Mast cell tumors in dogs occur primarily as either skin tumors or subcutaneous masses. It is important to remember that mast cell tumors are extremely variable in their clinical presentation. They can resemble any other type of skin or subcutaneous tumor, both benign (i.e., lipoma) and malignant. Mast cell tumors are highly aggressive and unpredictable in terms of treatment.
The oncologist will be able to tell you exactly what kind of cancer your boxer has and what treatment options are available. Chemotherapy and radiation are available options for dogs, and there are many ways to ease a dog's discomfort during treatment. Still, the recovery rate is not good for dogs with cancer.
The most common fatal cancers for boxers are lymphoma, fibrosarcoma, and undifferentiated mast cell cancer. When cancer is detected at the lower grades and the surgeon is able to remove all cancerous tissue, boxers recover from mast cell cancer better than many other breeds. However, the number and types of cancers and tumors that can befall your boxer is great. The best prevention is to keep a constant lookout for lumps and bumps.
An early symptom of cancer in dogs is excessive water drinking. While this may also indicate diabetes or Cushing's syndrome, if those two illnesses are ruled out, cancer is likely to be behind the excessive consumption of water. Other signs of cancer are lumps and bumps, bleeding or discharge from any orifice or sore, persistent stiffness or lameness, unusual lack of appetite, breathing difficulties, sudden, unexplained weight loss, body odors, black stools or urine, and difficulty urinating or defecating.
Gingival hyperplasia is a form of benign tumor that boxers and other bracycephalic dogs are prone to developing. The condition makes the gums of the boxer's mouth appear to be growing over his teeth. This is a common tumor that is relatively easily removed under general anesthesia. If these tumors are not removed, the teeth under them become useless, and eating can become painful. In addition, the teeth underneath the epulis, as the tumors are called, can rot. This gives harmful bacteria a means of getting into the blood stream and traveling to the heart, where they create problems.
Boxers routinely get gingival hyperplasia as early as two years of age, although they may get it at a much older age. Even if removed, these tumors can continue to recur. It is very important to routinely check your boxer's teeth and gums and to brush his teeth. Checking for plaque on the teeth or gingival hyperplasia is a good way of maintaining good dental health.