D.I.S.H. - A Common Find in Purebred Boxer Dogs
DISH stands for Diffuse Idiopathic Skeletal Hyperostosis. Although many breeds of dogs can rarely be affected by this disease it is most common in Boxers, indicating that this breed may have a genetic susceptibility.
DISH is considered to be a form of arthritis. However, DISH is characterized by unique, flowing calcification along the vertebrae of the spine. The good news is that DISH most often causes no symptoms at all and while it is slowly progressive, the long-term outlook is generally good. There is no associated threat to any internal organs with this disorder.
The problem with DISH is that the fusion of the spine results in reduced spinal flexibility and range of motion of the spine, therefore decreasing agility and altering normal mobility.
Very very rarely, DISH can result in painful spinal nerve compression. If this occurs then treatment may include treatment with NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories) or steroids to reduce inflammation and pain, as well as other pain medications. If medical treatment is not successful, then surgery may be warranted to reduce nerve compression.
A special thank you to Jessica and her boxer Kayo for giving us permission to post this x-ray.