Ongoing health issues..please help...need insight

Alisa KM

Boxer Pal
Hi All,

Have been a longtime member of this forum. My husband and I have an 11 year old (going on 12 this Dec!) boxer named Bucky.

This year has been kind of a nightmare health-wise for Bucky. Since May up until now, we have been in and out of the vet's office a total of 9-10 times.

First, in May, his arthritis had gotten worse, causing a slight limp/gimp in his left hind leg. He was diagnosed with degenerative bone disease in his back hind legs awhile back so this was no surprise. He also has arthritis in his spine. So we tried some pain meds - different kinds- they had terrible side effects for him- just made him loopy, lost, and pant really hard as if he was struggling to catch his breath - he would have to stop and rest to walk. We took him off them and he was doing fine with a prescription food for his arthritis and lots of vitamins and special supplements.

In June, at a follow up exam the vet discovered a soft tissue sarcoma in his left hind leg (possibly also causing the limp maybe?) He had a sarcoma there before a few years back that was completely removed, but it came back sadly. The vet said he could remove it safely though we had our reservations about his quality of life afterwards. We went ahead with the surgery since he was still doing fine and happy most days. The vet was able to remove most but not all of the tumor - it was grade 1, and he bounced back ok from the surgery.

Flash forward to July, he gets terrible diarrhea - we go in - antibiotics clear it up... apparently ate some bad raw food.
August - he gets what the vet thinks is bronchitis or kennel cough after being boarded for 1 day, despite having had updated bordatella vaccines and etc - he then had and still has a significant change in his bark and voice. Had bad allergies - redness in the eyes. Goes on antibiotics- those clear it up for awhile. He seems to feel better.
September/October- despite having flea and tick meds, he gets maggots in his feces, gets the medication, it clears up.
November - diarrhea and mucus in the stool, feeling lethargic as of yesterday but still eating.. Will take him in again soon!

What with a young infant in the house, my husband and I are feeling rather stressed and defeated at this point. Chest x-rays in June were clear - didn't see any masses in heart or lungs, bloodwork was good except for very mildly elevated levels in the liver.

Has anyone had experience with this or are we just experiencing a lot of bad luck? I'm not sure what I could attribute all these symptoms to besides perhaps a declining immune system or perhaps a cancer of the organs that we don't know about yet. He still has a weird bark and change of voice since the summer. Literally since May he has had something pretty much once a month - it's like clockwork and my husband and I have come to expect it. He gets something, gets meds, then gets better and is pretty happy and active all month until the next thing... Poor guy.

I guess I'm just posting to see if anyone has been through this and also for any advice/insight into whether I should ask the vet for specialized testing, xrays, ultrasounds, more bloodwork or what.. wish I just had more answers. He had pretty infrequent health issues in the past so this is not his normal. Oh and just to add he had a bad ear infection in February, and a terrible tooth infection last summer (2018). He just seems more prone to infections, which I understand is part of old age, but it still seems excessive and out of the ordinary to be at the vet's quite this often.

Thank you all. :(
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Reasonable Moderator
Staff member
Poor Bucky! It seems like he is having a really bad run of luck in the health department. Keep in mind that Bucky is 11 years old. That is a pretty good age for a boxer. I am not sure that there would be any point in doing lots of tests Good luck!


Boxer Insane
Poor guy! I know all too well the constant worry that comes with not knowing what is coming next yet always on the lookout! At his age (which is absolutely awesome!) I suspect he is just not as capable as a younger pup to fight off infections. Even though xrays were clear in June (nearly 6 months ago) I might have them done again just to be safe or at least to rule out various ailments. The Bordatella vaccine only covers a few strains so its not uncommon at all for them to catch it if exposed.
Just tossing out ideas to think about.....
Is he getting to some sort of food he shouldn't? Too many treats or human food? Is he being over fed? Is he stressed? Something he is eating might not agree with him. Diarrhea is most often a direct cause of something that went in! If my husband feeds Halen I can be 100% positive that she will have diarrhea. He over feeds and even though I have measuring cups and HE KNOWS he still manages to do heaping cups instead of normal ones. In her case it is short lived and self resolves when I get her meals back on track but still it can happen.
I hope he feels better and you get answers soon.


Boxer Insane
Poor Bucky! And poor you. I have been there where every time you turn around you are back at the vet. My guess is with all the medication and stress that Bucky has been through, his gut is out of balance. I would look for a probiotic to add to his food.

A little yogurt with his food may help, but many dogs are lactose intolerant, so it might make things worse. I know Purina makes something that can be sprinkled on food. I have used it for one of mine and it worked well. Also a spoonful of pumpkin can help by adding a little fiber. You van buy it canned at any grocery store. It comes in a can. Make sure to get the 100% pumpkin and not the pumpkin pie filling.

My girl Arabella had severe arthritis and many of the prescriptions for that caused high liver counts, so I tried hemp oil instead. It worked amazingly for her. I bought HempGold from Amazon.

I hope Bucky feels better soon.