Owners looking to do the best for their Boxer dogs often reach for supplements because of their perceived health benefits, whether for joint support or a shiny coat.
If you want to supplement your Boxer’s diet with added vitamins or minerals, it’s best to provide nutrient-rich whole foods, rather than resort to commercially-manufactured pills and powders.
A fresh, natural canine diet consisting of raw meaty bones, lean muscle meat and a little offal (organ meat) will already contain all the nutrients your Boxer needs for optimal health.
However, you can also supplement by strategically including certain foods on top of the basic diet.
Need a multivitamin? Look no further than liver. Could your Boxer use some digestive enzymes? Green tripe is the bomb!
Looking to soothe inflammation? Forget the Benadryl and reach for an apple, skin on.
I am not a vet. This article is intended for general informational and educational purposes. I encourage readers to view my full disclaimer here.
Do Boxer Dogs Need Supplements?
We are accustomed to thinking of supplements as specially formulated concoctions that come in jars and containers.
There is no shortage of companies promoting products with claims they will ease your senior dog’s mobility issues, address shedding or generally imbue your Boxer with added vitality.
The truth is that artificial supplementation is unnecessary as long as you have the fundamental aspects of your Boxer’s diet right.
There are reasons to approach bottled supplements with caution:
- Naturally-occurring vitamins and minerals in whole foods are complexed with other nutrients in ways that make them more bioavailable and absorbable, and safer than synthetic versions of those vitamins and minerals that are bottled as isolated chemistry, which is not a form in which the body would ever normally encounter nutrients
- Unlike vitamins and minerals contained within whole foods, man-made supplements run the risk of creating excesses
- There is questionable benefit to dietary supplementation, with recent research in humans showing adequate vitamin and mineral intake is associated with reduced all-cause mortality, but that this association is restricted to nutrient intake from foods, not supplements
- There is some evidence that high doses of certain dietary supplements can even be harmful in some cases e.g. excess calcium intake has been associated with increased risk of cancer death in humans, and that risk seems to be related to calcium intake from supplements, not whole foods
- Relying on supplementation to prop up an inadequate diet may create a false sense of security, making you think you’re providing all your dog’s needs when what’s really necessary is an overhaul of the diet as a whole
Rather than buying supplements, consider incorporating nutrient-rich whole foods into your Boxer’s diet.
Whole Foods As Supplements For Your Boxer
Feeding a properly composed fresh, natural canine diet is the best way to ensure your Boxer is getting the full complement of vitamins and minerals and removes the need to tinker and micromanage.
You can make a point of including particular foods if you’re looking to boost your dog’s intake of certain nutrients known to promote joint health or reputed to have anti-inflammatory properties or other benefits.
Good choices for supplementing your Boxer’s diet with whole foods include:
- Green tripe
- Raw meaty bones
- Leafy greens
- Fruit in general
Eggs As Supplements For Your Boxer
Glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate and hyaluronic acid are sold as supplements purported to relieve joint and soft tissue pain.
All these ingredients are contained, in natural form, in egg membranes and can be supplied by including whole, raw eggs in your Boxer’s diet.
Make sure you scrape out and peel off the membrane which lines the inside of the egg shell.
You may even like to save the membranes from eggs used for human consumption and feed them to your Boxer.
Learn more about the benefits of feeding eggs to Boxers and why concerns about biotin deficiency in connection with eggs are unfounded.
Is Fish Oil Good For Boxers? Try Sardines Instead
Fish oil, or sometimes krill oil, is a popular supplement among owners seeking to improve the condition of their Boxer’s skin and coat.
Unfortunately, fish oils come with several problems such as:
- Contamination with heavy metals — depending on where it’s sourced, fish oil can be high in heavy metals like mercury
- Oxidization of fats that go off during storage
- Fat overconsumption — oils add to overall fat in the diet
You can avoid these problems while supplying your dog with the benefits of fish oil by including fresh, raw fish in your Boxer’s diet.
Sardines are the best choice and don’t have the problems associated with larger, longer lived fish like tuna which harbor higher concentrations of toxic heavy metals like mercury in their tissues.
These small oily fish are also:
- A source of highly digestible edible bone
- Rich in iodine which is thought to support thyroid health but which can be lacking in other meats due to iodine-deficient soils
Make sure you choose fresh, raw, whole sardines sourced from the fishmonger.
Tinned sardines are cooked, and therefore inappropriate for dogs.
What’s more, canned sardines often contain flavorings or seasonings that are not good for dogs.
Other suitable small fish for Boxers include:
Apples: Nature’s Benadryl For Your Boxer
Apples make a beneficial inclusion in the Boxer diet.
They are a source of vitamins A and C, fiber such as pectin and antioxidants including polyphenols.
Apple skin in particular contains the plant compound quercetin, known as “Nature’s Benadryl” and sold as a supplement for its anti-inflammatory effects.
Read more about how to feed apples to your Boxer.
Liver: Nature’s Multivitamin For Boxers
Offal, or organ meat, represents a small but important part of your Boxer’s balanced raw diet.
Liver is the most commonly available “secreting” organ.
It is so rich in nutrients that it’s sometimes referred to as “Nature’s multivitamin”.
To take a snapshot of just a few of those vitamins and minerals, liver contains:
- 1200 times as much vitamin A as muscle meat
- 1300 times more manganese
- 100 times as much copper
- six times as much iron
- one third of the fat
Liver also tends to harbor fewer toxins than muscle meat — while the liver’s job is to filter toxins from the rest of the body, it stores them elsewhere e.g. in fat tissue.
Don’t overdo it — liver’s high nutritional content means a little goes a long way.
Feed liver at about 10% of the total meal, by weight.
Even adding a little liver a few times a week is plenty.
Too much and you run the risk of vitamin A excess and copper toxicity.
Beef, lamb and chicken liver are usually the most readily available.
Green Tripe: Digestive Enzymes For Your Boxer
Green tripe refers to the unbleached, untreated stomach lining of ungulates (hoofed animals) like sheep and cattle.
It’s regarded as a superfood because it retains the natural probiotics, digestive enzymes and beneficial bacteria from the guts of those ruminants.
These magic ingredients can be useful in rebalancing gut health, which is linked to immune function and therefore overall health.
Green tripe is also a rich source of omega 6 fatty acids (and omega 3) and contains calcium and phosphorus in a perfect 1:1 ratio.
Fun fact: Dogs often receive herbivorous poop as almost as much of a delicacy as green tripe, for many of the same reasons.
If your Boxer likes to eat the droppings of wild herbivores like deer, he is likely supplementing his own diet already.
Learn more about poop eating in Boxers (and why it’s okay).
Raw Meaty Bones: The Healthiest Thing You Can Give Your Boxer
There is no other single food item you can give your Boxer that provides as much benefit as a raw meaty bone.
According to raw feeding pioneer and vet Dr Ian Billinghurst, bones are such nutritional powerhouses that dogs consistently thrive when fed raw meaty bones and little else.
Raw meaty bone-based diets are the key to optimal health in Boxer dogs and should include:
- Edible bones like chicken carcasses in every meal
- Recreational bones like lamb or beef necks for additional chewing
Avoid weight-bearing bones like leg bones because they are:
- Denser, which makes them harder on teeth
- Marrow bones, which contain too much fat
Here is how to choose the right bones for your Boxer and why they must not be omitted from your dog’s diet.
Leafy Greens: Green Juice For Your Boxer
Leafy greens are worth adding to your Boxer’s dietary rotation, but need to be properly prepared.
Put leaves of romaine (cos) lettuce through a juicer in order to break open the cellulose in the cell walls, giving your dog access to the nutrients inside.
Without crushing, the canine digestive system is unable to derive much nutritional value from leafy greens.
In the wild, dogs may graze on the occasional blade of grass (often for reasons that have nothing to do with nutrition) but mainly encounter herbs and grasses pre-digested in the guts of their herbivorous prey.
For our pet dogs, the juicer stands in for the herbivore’s digestive system by breaking down the leafy greens into a form the canine gut can use.
Fruit: A Natural Source Of Vitamins And Minerals For Boxer Dogs
Fruit is a natural secondary food for dogs, eaten when the primary food i.e. meat is unavailable.
According to researchers with the Voyageurs Wolf Project, berries make up as much as 83 per cent of the diet of gray wolves in Northeastern Minnesota for a whole month at the height of summer.
It is this ability to sustain themselves on fruit, in addition to meat, that makes dogs “facultative” carnivores.
Facultative means “capable of, but not restricted to”.
Cats, on the other hand, are “obligate” carnivores, which must consume meat and only meat.
The benefits of fruit consumption are many, but fruit should always be fed the way dogs eat it in the wild: separately to meat.
Supplements For Particular Health Problems In Boxer Dogs
It’s tempting to think there might be a quick fix to our Boxers’ health issues.
Usually, though, it’s less a case of what we can add, and more about what we can remove from our dogs’ diets (or from their overall care and environment).
Regardless of the specific health complaint, the fundamental recipe for healing is the same.
For optimal health, make sure your Boxer is not eating, ingesting or otherwise being exposed to:
- Kibble or other highly processed dog food or treats
- Contaminants in tap water
- Chemical dewormers
- Flea/tick treatments
- Repeated vaccines
- Pesticides or herbicides like weedkiller on grass
- Lawncare chemicals
- Household chemicals in cleaning sprays, scented plugins, room deodorizers etc
- Aerosolized personal care products such as perfume, hair spray etc
What Is The Best Supplement For Boxers With Itchy Skin Or Allergies?
This means a raw meaty bone-based diet.
Kibble contains numerous undesirable ingredients that can produce itchiness and a host of other health problems in Boxers.
Ensure your raw diet is home prepared and that you are trimming all visible fat.
Otherwise your Boxer will be consuming too much fat, and fat overconsumption is a common cause of itchiness and other symptoms including:
Once you have optimized the diet, minimize as many of the other toxic inputs dot pointed in the previous section.
Therapeutic fasting is enormously helpful in accelerating detox, but beware it may produce an uptick in symptoms as part of the healing process.
If you have done all these things and still wish to supplement your Boxer’s diet to benefit skin health, you may like to include:
- Fresh, raw sardines as a whole food source of fish oil
- Apple with the skin on, as a source of quercetin which has anti-inflammatory properties
Here is a guide to coat care for Boxers.
Don’t make the mistake of overwashing your Boxer, as this strips oils from the skin and coat, predisposing it to tiny cracks called microfissures which can create itch.
What Is the Best Supplement For Boxers With Sensitive Stomachs?
Sensitive stomachs are often regarded as common to the Boxer breed, but Boxers afflicted with this problem are typically kibble-fed.
The same applies to Boxers that are picky eaters and Boxers that frequently go off their food or experience digestive upset.
Feed a properly put together raw diet and these issues usually right themselves after a period of adjustment.
Again, fasting and digestive rest is extraordinarily useful in healing gut damage including that which manifests as acid reflux.
The Best Joint Supplement For A Boxer
As with other health issues, the best remedy for sore joints is a properly fed raw diet.
To protect your Boxer’s joints, it’s also important to:
- Maintain your Boxer at a healthy, lean weight
- Never run or jump your Boxer on hard surfaces like concrete or cement sidewalks
- Refrain from taking your Boxer on long walks until his growth plates have closed at around two years old
- Raise Boxer puppies with maximum time on soft ground with good grip (like grass or carpet) and minimal time on slippery, hard surfaces like tiles and floorboards — this guards against the developmental disorder known as “knuckling” as well as joint problems later in life
- Choose a high quality dog bed for your Boxer
- Use a harness, not a collar, to avoid stressing your Boxer’s neck and spine
- Keep your Boxer’s nails trimmed to maintain proper postural alignment and gait
If you have all these things covered, and still want to feed something to support joint health, a good option is fresh, raw whole eggs including the membrane peeled out from inside the shell.
As detailed earlier, egg membranes contain glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate and hyaluronic acid which are thought to ease pain in joints and soft tissues.
The best supplements for Boxer dogs don’t come in a bottle.
A fresh, natural canine diet containing plenty of raw meaty bones, muscle meat and a little offal will meet all your Boxer’s nutritional requirements.
If you’d like to boost your Boxer’s intake of specific nutrients, do it the way nature intended: with fresh, raw whole foods.
Reach for an apple, an egg, a little green tripe or some sardines and you’ll delight your dog’s tastebuds while avoiding the guesswork and risks associated with manmade supplements.
Billinghurst, Ian, Give Your Dog A Bone, Warrigal Press, 1993
Chen, Fan et al, Association Among Dietary Supplement Use, Nutrient Intake and Mortality Among US Adults: A Cohort Study, Annals of Internal Medicine, May 7 2019
Gable, Thomas D et al, Weekly Summer Diet of Gray Wolves (Canis lupus) in Northeastern Minnesota, The American Midland Naturalist, 2018
Henriques, Julia, Why Your Dog Should Eat More Liver, Dogs Naturally Magazine, July 13 2021