Q. Skin problems are a commonly reported Bernese ailment. What skin conditions have your Berners experienced, and what remedies proved helpful?



I am the proud owner of a lovely 3 yr old BMD. We suffered from one hot spot (one to many) and had success using Tea Tree Oil. Buy pure tea tree and add a few drops to water and wash affected area 3-4 times a day. This is a wonderful, natural aseptic (fleas and mosquitos hate it). Add a drop to olive oil for any ear problems or to a safe shampoo as a repellant. We have used Nutro's lamb and rice (keep well sealed) and our berner gets vit E 400iu daily, 1000mg vit C (500 twice a day, do not use time release as dogs digest to quickly to absord), garlic 1 capsule am and pm for parasites eg. fleas, worms etc. all capsules are broken open onto food for best absorption. tablets are crushed. most important is a good source of drinking water - distilled is best! All skin problems suggest liver congestion from pour nutrition, toxic drugs or chemical applications. Investigate into dandilion root or burdock root tea to detoxify. Oh, i forgot 1 tblsp flax seed oil to dinner meal (keep in frig or freezer so it doesnt go rancid.) nothing like a swim in fresh lake water for a shining coat. Get your berner outside!

Patti Hurley Brantford, Ontario Canada - Friday, February 06, 1998 at 23:07:18 (EST)


Our BMD is only 1 yrold. Since we got her we have used Fresh&Clean shampoo (when she really stinks) and Mr Crystals Gentle and Tearless shampoo, always followed with Mr Crystals Luxury Rinse. My Darling Husband decided to help me out once and used something else. (His family owns a grooming salon...I don't remember what it was.) My poor "baby" suffered so badly that it took a good month and a half of Mr Crystals Medicated baths to clear it up. Her skin was red in spots and warm to the touch. Thank God she did not develope hot spots! Since then, we stick to out luxury baths. And Daddy is not allowed to bathe the Queen of the house! As far as diet goes, we had an awful time with her. She eats Nutro Max Chicken, Rice and Lamb. Her coat looks great and I know that I am feeding her the best. Everything else we tried made her vomit or have diarrea. And the plain Lamb smelled so bad that not only did the smell make me sick, but I found that her urine smelled of it, too.

Chris Noonan Scituate, RI USA - Tuesday, February 03, 1998 at 16:14:11 (EST)


Our one and only BMD, Zoe, was diagnosed with generalized demodicosis at about 4 mo. She is now 2 yrs. old, doing fine in many ways, but her coat is very patchy and itchy at times. We researched this condition and went to several vets (including dermatologists and a homeopath) searching for a solution. Our current vet uses electronic acupuncture, herbs, supplements and diet to control the mites and boost her immune system. (Specifically, Vit. E., Milk Thistle, Astragalus, and trace minerals. We use Flint River Ranch dry kibble and I also make a raw meat and vegetable diet based on Pat McKay's book, Reigning Cats and Dogs.) We give 1/4 tablet prednisone every day to stop itching. Last July Zoe looked so good we discontinued use of the herbs on the advice of our vet; unfortunately, she also needed a rabies booster at that time. Within 2 weeks her hair was falling out again in patches and has still not regained the healthy look it once had. We continue to work with this problem and are hopeful we'll eventually see good progress.

Pam Ryan Los Altos Hills, CA USA - Monday, February 02, 1998 at 19:28:06 (EST)


My Bernie (the Bernese Mountain Dog) had a shedding problem (from the previous question) and the itching problem. He would also tend to shake his head alot. Of cource the Vet had no idea what the problem was. I began adding a product called "Missing Link" to his food. As a pup he got Purina Proplan chicken flavor (he would not touch the lamb) and now he gets Nutro Max with lamb and rice. I'm not exactly sure why or which but he does not shed very much. Prior to this I was sweeping the floor every day, now it's about every week. He has also stopped shaking his head. Also he seems to have less skin irritation if I only wash him (preferably with Rio Vista) and rinse thoughly. Maybe I just got lucky. Good Luck.

Bernie Mission Viejo, CA USA - Friday, January 30, 1998 at 15:41:25 (EST)


Our Bernese Mountain Dog, Sierra, has not experienced any major skin problems. Although, she does have one small wart on her skin, but that is all. She is now 2.5 years old.

Donna Tudhope Brampton, Ontario Canada - Saturday, January 24, 1998 at 11:36:54 (EST)


I have lot of expirience with dogs, particularly, German sheperds and Bernese. I get an advice from an Orthopedic Chirurg, that most of the problems with shedding and skin problems, that the feeding is not in balance. In the evening: Bread with hole corn in it about 6 slices, a lot of vegetables so fine as possible, fruit, potatoes, half a cup of sunfloweroil (you must change this with fish between two day's). In the morning you give the dog some dry food. Vitamins a day: 2x 1000mg Vitamin C Time released, 3 x 100 IE Vit E, half of a tablet Vitamin B12, and a 80mg Aspirine from Bayer for the musculair. My dog is now in a perfect shape.

Wim Tegelaar Vlaardingen, Holland - Thursday, January 08, 1998 at 12:19:19 (EST)


We are having a devil of a time with our Berner's ears. They have had a musky, yeast type odor since about 2 months old and he's almost a year. The vet has cleaned them and never finds mites or infection. He shakes his head constantly and scratches them with his back foot which of course makes him yelp all the time. The vet figured it was a food allergy so now he is on Iam's lamb and rice and I try to give him the lamb and rice treats as well. He still has the itch problem. I have also given him an antihistimine, (4mg-3times a day) and when he gets real bad, he goes on cortisone which can't be good for him long term. He's only had one hot spot, interestingly enough after a bath at the vet. Aloe vera worked perfectly to heal it up-boy are those nasty and can they ever spread!!

C Nolan Woodinville, Washington USA - Saturday, December 13, 1997 at 23:53:11 (EST)


Our first Berner, Chrigi, used to get hot spots until we switched him to Natural Choice Lamb and Rice Formula. Now we enjoy the company of our two girls Clara, 4-1/2 and Gayla 2. They are on the same food and never had a hot spot nor any excessive shedding. We do give them herbal supplements with yogurt. Up until six weeks ago they where taking Hoka Mix 30 and their coats are just beautiful. I would highly recommend it. Now we switched to a similar product called Grains, Greens & Herbs by Natural Path, a Canadian Product. They have lots of energy and no dry coats despite the dry climate we live in. I think prevention is the key!

Marianne Macdonald Spruce Grove, Alberta Canada - Tuesday, December 09, 1997 at 23:54:00 (EST)


We had problems with small "bumps" that looked like seborhea (sp?). We changed to all natural Nature's Recipe lamb and rice, added aloe vera juice to his water and the problems went away in a few weeks. Seems that any flea bite can aggravate the dermatitus so we try to keep Jagger flea free! We have no holistic vets in our area and trying to treat these skin problems without antibiotics and "steroids" the vets want to use is a problem.

L.Christensen Ohio USA - Sunday, December 07, 1997 at 20:34:26 (EST)


Our dog had skin problems after we changed the kind of food. The new food would made our dog have fewer feces. But the dog, her name is Bo, became ill with feever and Bo became very skinny. So we took Bo to the doctor but they couldn't find something. Also the docter searched the blood. But also found nothing. We changed back to the old food and after about three and a half months Bo has her skin back like a Berner Mountain Dog should have.

Our youngest Berner never had problems with her skin. We don't change her food. You can think why !!

We have a lot of fun and love from our dogs and we hope that we never ever will have problems with the dogs, like elbow problems.Good luck with the Berner Mountain Dogs

Marcel & Erika Blom Winsum, Groningen Holland - Friday, December 05, 1997 at 15:33:05 (EST)


In my case a change of food worked.I don't know if I am allowed to say what food I give my dogs, but it is called Smolke, and it's from Danmark.

Gerda de Haan Apeldoorn, Gelderland The Netherlands - Thursday, December 04, 1997 at 03:56:10 (EST)


My best results came with 1,000 mgrams of B-pollen daily. I started with small amounts and then worked up to 1,000 half in the morning and half at night. It took at least a month .

Highlander Manalapan, N.J USA - Sunday, November 23, 1997 at 16:45:10 (EST)


I first noticed a hot spot on Henry on a Friday night, of course after the vet had closed. I turned to the Berner-L looking for a remedy. In digest 933 I found the answer:

Date: Fri, 24 Oct 97 11:46:29 UT From: "Leslie Farhangi" To: "Bernese Mailing List" Subject: hot spots...

Leslie said her vet recommended aloe vera gel. I added one prior step, a cleaning with hydrogen peroxide, followed by a dab of aloe gel. The hot spot cleared up in about 2 days.

I had difficulty at first getting the HP on the spot, it ran through the fur, all around the spot, but never hit it! I took a swizzle stick - those thin straws used in drinks, and dipped it in the HP, put my finger over the end, and then released my finger when the other end of the straw was over the area, right on target!

His vet checked it a few days later, she said "aloe is amazing stuff, no further treatment required".

Thanks Leslie!

Bill McCaffery Edison, NJ USA - Sunday, November 23, 1997 at 08:56:22 (EST)


My new Berner is only 6 months old (Cita von Nesselacker, or "Nessli"), and has fortunately not had any skin problems yet. My previous Berner (Anita v. Schofchurli, or "Yodel", also a Swiss Import- a Gray v. Waldacker daughter) did have some minor problems as a youngster that she outgrew. The Virginia humidity did cause some hotspots- I found a very simple remedy of pouring on hydrogen peroxide at first sight of a hot spot minimized, if not completely reversed, that disgusting condition. I think the suggestion of a lower protein diet has a huge benefit for our beloved breeed for many reasons other than just skin conditions. From the literature and what I know about breeding horses, too much protein can lead to joint problems.

Carina Elgin The Plains, VA USA - Saturday, November 22, 1997 at 22:11:14 (EST)


Having just found your page.... I find it interesting that one of my PRIMARY problems with my BMD's is the current question! Again... I am just getting "back into" BMD's; but, I had one HECK of a time with skin problems, and I found the primary source of the problem in my BMD's was an allergy to SOY PRODUCTS..... I had spent literally THOUSANDS of dollars on allergy treatments; but found, when I changed feed to a non-soy containing formula... skin problems went away.... also... the addition of "Fish Meal" to the diet improved skin/coats... and eliminated any latent thyroid problems.......

I hope this helps/supports other responses... I know what worked for me.... ALSO (an afterthought)... I found that protien levels in feed > 21% added to skin problems in adults.

Gail Ramsey (formerly Whitesell) Ashland, OR USA - Saturday, November 22, 1997 at 00:21:25 (EST)


Bailey is a nutered male, 1 1/2 years old. He has a problem with dry skin and itching. The best remedy that we have come up with so far is Flax Seed Oil. It has really seemed to help him a great deal. I am still working on it though so if I come up with something else I will note it.

Kathe Vasquez Santa Monica, California USA - Friday, November 21, 1997 at 21:17:20 (EST)