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First Aid Box

A word of caution
On these pages we aim to give owners tips we have found useful with our own dogs.
They are no substitute for veterinary treatment.
You should always
consult your vet if you believe your dog is unwell.

In all instances of health,
prevention is far better than cure.


Items with this symbol are things which bear caution

Hints and tips to help you look after your best friend



Guard your dog against fatal diseases
The major infectious diseases of dogs can cause suffering and, in some instances, be fatal. Treatment may be difficult and expensive. Planned protection programmes should be followed for the entire life of your dog.  Below is a list of the most common diseases which can harm your dog.
Disease Cause Symptoms



This is a viral disease affecting any dog, but particularly puppies. High temperature for up to three days, which subsides & then recures a week later. Fever, eye & nasal discharge, vomiting, diarrhoea & possibly pneumonia. Later the dog may exhibit muscle spasms, convulsions, progressive paralysis & maybe permanent brain damage.


The virus is passed in the urine of infected dogs. The carrier dog can still infect others up to six months after it has recovered. It is highly infectious & can be a severe disease especially in dogs under two years old. In mild cases the dog may show only a diminished appetite & lethargy. In more severe cases there is also depression, diarrhoea, often with blood, tonsilitis, & acute abdominal pain. Corneal opacity may follow infection. Death can occur within 24 to 36 hours.


Highly contagious disease which attacks the intestinal tract. Usually contracted from the faeces of an infected dog. It is a hardy virus which survives well outside the dog. Diarrhoea, often with blood, vomiting & abdominal pain. The mortality rate varies from 10%-90%.

Kennel Cough

Caused by a bacterium & the canine parainfluenza virus. Dogs can contract this disease anywhere they may come into contact with an infected dog. Harsh, hacking cough which often finishes with gagging. It may persist several weeks. The dog may also be sneezing or have tonsilitis.


Caused by bacteria contracted from the brown rat. It affects dogs of any age particularly those living in the north of New Zealand Fever, loss of appetite, jaundice, vomiting. Kidney & liver damage is likely. It has a high mortality rate.

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Dogs, like humans, love sweet foods. However, high quality dark chocolate can be deadly for your dog. Cocoa beans constain a substance called theobromine which irritates a dog's stomach lining and will cause an increase in the heart rate. Sickness, diarrhoea, fits or worse can result. If you think your dog has eaten a lot of human chocolate, consult your vet. Specially developed dog chocolates do not contain theobromine; but, better still, don't encourage your dog to eat any chocolate at all.

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Torn Claws

If your dog tears its claw, try sealing the end with nail polish. This will help to stem the flow of blood and has the added effect of preventing dirt getting into the wound. Try to keep the paw as clean and dry as possible. You may also like to try a homeopathic puncture wound remedy; Hypericum 1M/Ledum 200c. Watch out for signs of infection and, as we always recommend , consult your vet if there is no sign of improvement within a day or so.

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Eczema or Hot Spots

With Pyreneans being predominantly white dogs they can be susceptible to both eczema and hot spots. You need to check first whether there is any underlying problem causing the itchiness, such as fleas or ticks. Lucq often gets itchy bits which he then worries until they are sore. As soon as we notice him nibbling his fur or pulling bits out, we put a homeopathic cream, Calendula 10% on the red bits. It has the immediate effect of cooling down the area. The wonderful attribute of homeopathic creams is that it doesn't matter if your dog licks the cream off; it works just as well from inside.

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Medical Insurance

Many pet owners are not aware that pet medical insurance exists. Lucq and Vinca are both insured and have been since they were little. There are many different plans available, including ones for breeding. Coverage can include medical and surgical benefits, hospitalisation, advertising lost pets, neutering and even the annual vaccination.

This year I had Vinca x-rayed to determine why she turned her foot out when she walked. The cost of the x-rays, the day in the surgery, the anasthaesia and consultation came to around $320. I sent the claim to the insurance company in the same envelope as my payment for her annual premium. Within two weeks I received an envelope from the insurance company. I thought it was just the renewal certificate. It was in fact the cheque for the claim I had made. The full 80% (as per policy) was paid without a query.

The annual renewal was $260, the claim paid was also $260. The company is Ellenco Enterprizes in Christchurch (03) 332-3648. If you contact them, please mention Vinca's name and the PFA Website.

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Dew Claws
One of the distinguishing features of the Pyrenean is the double dew claws on the hind legs.  However, as these claws do not get worn away from being in contact with the ground, it is important to keep an eye on them so they don't get too long and curl around into the pad.  If you don't feel comfortable clipping your dog's claws, take him to a pet groomer or your vet.  You may be lucky enough to have a dog who clips his own claws . . . Lucq does, but only the double dew claws unfortunately.

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A lot of ticks won't bother with a Pyrenean, they're a long way off the ground, the skin is tough and the coat very thick.  However those that do make the effort can be an irritant to your dog.  It is possible to remove a tick yourself, but you must make sure to remove the mouth parts of the tick to prevent infection.  Another option is to kill the tick and let it drop off of its own accord.  Coating the tick with nail polish is a good way of killing it.  Ticks breathe through their skin and the polish seals them from air.

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