Health Information






One Thing everyone asks for is Dr. Robert Brown’s instructions about Anesthesia. This was updated in 1989. Save it to show your vet if your dog has to be anesthetized. It was written for Great Pyrenees, but you can substitute Komondor for Great Pyr throughout. I remind you that we have had here reports of more than one Komondor dying after receiving Ace Promazine, which I know many vets still use routinely for tranquilizing dogs. Recently we have used Valium for our oldest dogs sometimes for short procedures, or as a tranquilizer before administering gas. The fundamental rule is always administer anesthesia to effect, never to body weight. Here is Dr. Brown’s article on anesthesia.

Anesthesia For Great Pyrenees an Update ©
Robert M. Brown, D.V.M.
In 1968, I wrote an article entitled, “Anesthesia for Great Pyrenees.” It appeared in the Periodical, a Great Pyrenees newsletter. It seems that 21 years later, an update is needed. While some things have not changed, improvements in the drugs utilized have been great. After all of these years, the Great Pyrenees still has a lower basal metabolic rate than some other dogs of comparable size and mass. The tendency toward hypothyroidism should be noted and may play a part in anesthesia dosage and choice. Cautious use of some drugs such as chloramphenicol with barbiturate anesthesia have been documented over the years. When possible, try to provide your veterinarian with a patient that is not wearing a flea collar or currently taking the antibiotic chloramphenicol.

Problems with Great Pyrenees anesthesia stem from over estimation of weight. This is not as great a problem as it was 20 years ago since many veterinary clinics now have walk-on scales that provide accurate weight information for large dogs. However, if your veterinarian does not have a method of weighing your Pyr accurately, err on the light side in guessing weight. Better yet, find a feed store or truck company with a walk-on scale and ask them to weigh your Great Pyrenees.

The safest anesthetic type for general anesthesia remains inhalant gas. Over the years, several new gas anesthetics have been introduced – enflurane and isolflurane. At this time, however, halothane and methoxyflurane remain the most popular choices in veterinary medicine for all dogs including Great Pyrenees. Both of these are very well tolerated by Pyrs and are indicated in any long surgical procedure.

For short procedures such as wound suturing, dental care, and radiographs, a number of newer drugs can be considered. In all of these situations, I prefer to give the Pyr a pre-anesthetic or sedative. This drug combination does two things. It alleviates any apprehension on the part of the dog (not the owner), and it allows for me to cut down even further on the amount of intravenous anesthesia that I need to use. My preferred pre-anesthetic for Great Pyrenees is a mixture (in the same syringe) of xylazine and atropine. Xylazine is feared by many veterinarians because it has the potential side effect of drastically slowing the heart rate. However, concurrent use of atropine controls this side effect. I have used this combination in all ages. The oldest Pyr was 11 years; the youngest was three weeks. In my practice the oldest dog of any breed was 14 years when receiving this sedative. Common sense dictates that this combination not be used in any Pyr with clinical heart disease. For a 100 pound Pyr, I would give 50 mg. of xylazine and 1.25 mg. of atropine intramuscularly. After 15 minutes, the desired level of relaxation is achieved, and ultrashort duration intravenous anesthesia with Surital ® can be initiated. I am now using a 4% Surital® solution and would expect to give that 100 pound Pyr 2cc. over a 30 second period and follow up with the amount necessary to perform the x-ray, suturing, or dental procedure. The follow up amount is generally 3 cc. to 5 cc. given over 2 to 3 minutes of the time we take an x-ray. Atropine is available under many generic labels. Xylazine is available under the names Rompun® or Gemini®.

Physical changes in the Great Pyrenees can alter the amount and type of anesthesia used significantly. Older Pyrs will need less sedation and less of whichever anesthesia is being utilized. Overweight Pyrs may actually absorb some anesthetic agents in the fat layer. They appear to require more anesthesia and wake much more slowly when barbiturate anesthetics are used. Any long surgical procedure should be accompanied by the use of intravenous fluids to maintain cardiovascular function. This is necessary with any form of anesthesia. Unfortunately, Great Pyrenees cesarean sections are becoming more commonplace. Because some Pyr section candidates have primary uterine inertia, and large amounts of intrauterine fluid, intravenous fluid therapy support is absolutely necessary during the surgery.

Because of the legal ramifications, it is necessary for me to issue a disclaimer – something that was not necessary 21 years ago. This recommendations are only guidelines, and your veterinarian will use his or her expertise when giving anesthesia. This article is not to be construed as the only or best method of providing anesthesia for Great Pyrenees.

Go To Top


Ear Wash

Another item often requested, tested and sworn to by owners of dogs of all breeds is Dr. J.C. Blumenthal’s ear wash. Any dog is grouchy if he has a sore ear or ears. Check your Komondor’s ears routinely. In case of trouble, the Levys give you advice that has served us here well over the years. Here is Dr. Blumenthal’s ear wash, and instructions.

If your Komondor scratches his ears or shakes his head a lot, be sure to look in his ears, and see if they are inflamed, tender, or have a brown discharge. A badly affected ear will also have a characteristic bad smell. If the ear is full of hair, pull out as much as you can. You can use fingers, tweezers, forceps, or even pliers for this. Just after you have pulled hair out, and/or when the ear is tender, use panalog in the ear twice a day for a couple of days until the ear is no longer angry. Then use the following ear wash to clean out the ear twice daily until it is clean and sweet-smelling. To use the ear wash, which is easiest to handle in a bottle with a small pouring spout, shake it well and pour about a teaspoon or two into one ear at a time. With your hand cupped behind the ear, massage it gently for a minute — you will hear the liquid squish around in the canal. Do both ears this way before you let the dog shake his head. (Best to do this outside!) Results are seen in only a few days. The ingredients are:

Boric Acid Powder
Isopropyl Alcohol (Rubbing alcohol)
Gentian Violet
A four-ounce bottle
In a four-ounce bottle put 1 1/4 teaspoons of boric acid powder and a few drops of dye. The most generally available dye is gentian violet. Fill the bottle with isopropyl alcohol. All ingredients can be had at your local grocery store or drugstore. If you make it in quantity, use brown bottles (available from your pharmacist), but I do prefer the bottle with the narrow tip for application. These are also available from the pharmacist. If you spill it on the dog’s coat it will be lavender, but it wears off quickly. Other appropriate dyes, though harder to get, are trypan blue and malachite green.

Go To Top


Anti-Flea Preparations

A third thing is a warning that Komondors (and other livestock guard dogs) are very susceptible to anti-flea preparations. Administer any flea sprays or dips with great caution, remembering that a great deal more stays on a Komondor’s coat than on the coat of a short- or smooth-haired dog. Overdosing or allergic reactions may cause convulsions, which can have serious consequences. If you have your dog on year-round heartworm preventatives, as many of us do, remember that this is being combined with whatever anti-flea poison you are administering. If you have sprayed your yard or fogged your house, this too will affect your dog. Combining several poisons can have unexpected consequences. Think and check with your veterinarian.

Go To Top


Parasites and Diarrhea

Another word on health. Diarrhea is bad in any dog, but on a fully corded Komondor, it is a disaster. The very first thing to check is for parasites. I know one often forgets this, but in quite a few cases of persistent problems, the causes were parasites, usually whipworms, hookworms, giardia, or coccidiae. Sometimes if a dog has a really severe bout, the feces are so diluted that nothing turns up in the first specimen. You may have to have more than one check made. I think many of us forget to check stools on grown dogs; they can pick up parasites at any time, especially if they are exercised in areas where other dogs also relieve themselves. I remind you also that in many cases when a dog has a really severe bout of diarrhea, it takes a long time for his stomach to get back to normal. Do not be too quick to put him back on his usual diet. The prescription diet ID (Intestinal Diet) is a great help with this, but you must keep the dog on it for quite a while. By the way, Komondors say the dry form is much more palatable than the canned product. In 1996 we add a note that Hi-Tor makes an intestinal diet which you can get from regular pet supply places. It is called ENO and comes in both cans and kibble; it is cheaper than the standard Hill’s diets you have to get from your vet. By the way, in case of severe diarrhea or any time you think your dog is dehydrated, recipes for an electrolyte solution and some bland diets you can make yourself are in our Komondor Cookbook. Last year someone wrote about bad effects their Komondor had from taking metronidazole for diarrhea. This is now the drug of choice with many veterinarians, and we have used it with no bad side effects. Komondors (and probably other breeds as well) often react badly to either drugs or doses of drugs that most dogs tolerate well. You just have to be careful with any medication.

Go To Top


Medication In General

Recently several people have called to tell me their dog had a BAD reaction to some medication. Last year I mentioned Metronidazole. More recently an owner reported a terrible reaction in a Komondor who got first Primor and then Baytril. The Primor was not the right antibiotic for his problem (whatever it was) and she says that Baytril is contraindicated if the dog has had seizures, which this dog has had. Again we have used Baytril with good results (on a dog with a urinary infection). Still more recently we had a report of a Komondor with a bad reaction to Keflex. The dog had previously had Keflex with no bad reaction. I can only say that any dog or any person can have a bad reaction to about any drug, and things they have had previously without a problem can present a problem when they are used again.

Go To Top



We write about this so much, but it is on our minds because it seems as if this time of year we always get cases reported. Most often it is an older dog, who died, but there have been several cases of bloat in young dogs. In some past cases owners have called to say they knew immediately what it was because we write about it so much. Probably most of us are tired of reading the symptoms, but if one new reader notices and can save a dog, it is worth my taking the space here. In the case of the older dog, the owners have wasted time calling to ask if I thought they should call a vet. In bloat cases, time is so important! A dog going into bloat is uncomfortable. He cannot lie down for any length of time, and he is restless. He may try to vomit or to defecate, and he may throw up small quantities of fluid and bile, but he cannot relieve the gas which is filling his stomach. Many dogs, even stoic Komondors, will whimper or cry out in pain. If you feel the stomach, it will be getting hard and tight. This is an emergency situation. We cannot stress too strongly that every Komondor-owner should know where to take their dog in an emergency. That means you should find out where there is an emergency clinic that is open all night and on holidays and also be sure you know how to get there BEFORE you need it. If your dog gets bloat, he needs IMMEDIATE attention, and it somehow always happens in the middle of the night or during a snowstorm, etc.., and you are just plain better off knowing where to take him. Ask your vet for advice on this. Most such clinics are used to handling bloat cases, which may not be true of your vet. Have the phone number in a place where you can find it quickly. If bloat occurs, call ahead and say you are on your way. This will give your dog the best possible chance to survive. Untreated bloat is fatal. It is a painful death. On a more cheerful note, though an operation is always expensive, at least the prognosis is now very much better than it used to be. This year a 12 year old Komondor who had bloat which resulted in a lot of damage to internal organs still made an amazing recovery. Monitoring the heart is perhaps the most critical thing that emergencies clinics can now do quite routinely.

Go To Top



Komondors, especially old ones, get a lot of cysts. They are usually not malignant. Your veterinarian should advise you about them, of course, but the usual advice, when the Vet feels sure they are not malignant, is to ignore them unless they are in a place where they get irritated constantly or they are very unsightly or they open on their own and do not heal. Mammary tumors are more often malignant, and these must be removed. Whether radiation after surgery is indicated is a matter between you and your Vet. If your Komondors has to be anesthetized for some reason, check the cysts beforehand, and perhaps your Vet can remove them when he is doing some other procedure. If our dogs have to be anesthetized for any reason we also ask the vet to clean their teeth while they are unconscious. It is also a good idea to ask that the dogs nails be clipped way back while they are unconscious.

Go To Top


Lyme Disease

I add this year a few words about Lyme Disease. There is more news about vaccines being expected. For the past few years there has been a vaccine, and some Vets recommend it. We have not used the one that has been available, although we have a lot of Lyme Disease in our area. Discuss it with your Vet. Lyme Disease is now in just about every state. Not every dog that limps is dysplastic, and these days here, if a dog limps, our first thought is Lyme Disease. Symptoms of Lyme Disease in dogs can involve limping, joint pain which seems to affect different joints at different times, lethargy, general poor condition. If the Vet suspects Lyme Disease, early administration of antibiotics is given, whether a test is positive or not. Lyme Disease tests are not always reliable. If anyone has any ideas about keeping ticks off the dog, let me know. We go over our dogs carefully and often, but we cannot keep ticks off of them. Dips seem ineffective here; flea and tick collars for dogs that are outside in known tick-infested areas are more successful, but vigilance is the real answer at the moment. We have had good results in keeping ticks down with the Preventic collars. Our dogs wearing them are not completely tick-free, but they have few ticks, while in the past they have had MANY ticks. No matter what you use, check often for fleas and ticks and remove any promptly. For some reason, we hear from several owners on the West Coast who feel they do not have ticks and hence cannot have Lyme Disease or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, etc. Honestly folks, there are ticks in California.

Go To Top



The owner of a 5 months-old bitch found he could not keep the dog. He wanted to spay her before he turned her over to a new owner. I asked him what the rush was, and he said his vet told him bitches should be spayed young or they would get breast cancer. This is not true. They might or might not. We do not approve of spaying bitches at this young an age. I assured the man that she would probably not come into heat soon — we find the average age is a year. Animals altered too young seem to us never to mature properly. If his or the vet’s worry was that bitches can belong to puppy mill breeders, I assured him that we would not turn the bitch over to anyone who was not responsible. As for altering males, if the owner is responsible, this is rarely necessary ever. If the dog marks the house, it might be an option, but we feel no responsible owner should have a male Komondor wandering off lead where he can overpopulate the world. In any case, neutering an animal who has recently been relocated is a BAD idea. Much better to have them well settled and used to a new owner and new surroundings. One dog recently came home after neutering and didn’t seem right. By the next day he went into bloat. It seems to me that something put too much strain on the system.

Go To Top


Old Dogs

Each year we add a few more things to our list of important things. Many of us have old dogs. I call anything over 10 years of age an old Komondor. Many of these Komondors, even if their hips were excellent, get arthritic. It gets hard for them to get up after they have been lying down for a long time. When our dogs get in this condition, we put them on phenylbutazone, which I give them in their food. You should not do this without consulting your vet, but many vets agree that dogs have few side effects from bute, and they get a lot of relief from the aches and pains of old age. I also try to make sure my old dogs do get some exercise. Few of them will willingly go out and run around by themselves, but a slow walk does them a lot of good. I figure it does me good too. Quite a few old dogs have thyroid deficiencies. If you have blood work done, have this checked. Thyroid pills are easy to administer, and your old dog may benefit from being put on the right dosage. Old dogs who suddenly seem to walk peculiarly may need to have anal glands expressed. This is best done by your vet if it is needed. If their breath is foul, have the vet check for broken or damaged teeth. Sometimes cleaning the dog’s teeth is recommended and helps a lot. Just remember that old dogs do not tolerate anesthesia very well. Your good vet will know this. Someone gave Harapos a pad made of convoluted foam rubber (like the pads used on hospital beds) inside a washable cover. He liked it a lot. Bocs now finds it a comfort to her. I got a topper of this for my bed when I had Lyme Disease. It is extremely comfortable for me, so I know why the dogs like it.

Since I wrote this last year, I have had reports of several newer drugs that help relieve arthritic pain. One such drug is Adequan, which is given in the form of a series of shots. Another is Arquil, which is given in Pill Form. Inger Beecher, who is a veterinarian and a Komondor owner, says she has had good results with Cosequin, I don’t know what form this is given in. And, of course, Aspirin or Ascriptin are also often very useful. These and Bute are much cheaper than the new drugs. Not every drug works with every Komondor. The main thing is that there are things that will give your arthritic old dog some relief, ask your vet about your dog’s problem.

Go To Top


Taking your dog’s temperature

I have added this because I find that quite a few people do not take temperatures on their animals. Indeed, we usually do, but we were recently delinquent and when Bocs stopped eating, we didn&’t check it for several days. When I finally called the vet, he asked what her temperature was, and we went and took it, and the poor old thing had a high fever! A week on an antibiotic has restored her appetite and her health. Remember that a dog&’s normal temperature is probably between 101 and 102 degrees. We do not worry unless the fever is 103 or higher. You take the temperature rectally, and I highly recommend a rectal thermometer with a ring on the end. You put a string in this ring and tie a rather long loop in it, which means a) you can shake the thing down by twirling it by the string instead of shaking it down, and b) if for some reason the dog manages to retract the whole thing into its anus, you have a string to pull it out (gently) again. Don&’t laugh; this can happen! Really, if your dog is sick, it is wise to take its temperature before you call your vet, because that is probably the first thing he will ask you about.

Go To Top