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03-1995 to 06-2002

Vets report at 8 months


Thank you for referring "Bernie" on the 4th October. At the time of presentation he was only moderately lame in his left fore and left hind limbs and very slightly lame in his right fore and right hind limbs.

There was poor shoulder and upper limb muscle development in both forelimbs and pain with restriction of movement on flexion and extension of both elbows. There was pain on extension of the left shoulder and extension of the right shoulder was resented - although it was difficult to determine this as due to localised discomfort.

"Bernie" bunny hopped at the trot and there was significant quadriceps and hamstring muscle loss (or failure to develop) in the left hind limb with pain on extension of his hip. Extension of the fright hip was resented.

Under general anaesthesia the " Ortolani test" was positive in both hips with the left luxating very readily. The radiographs demonstrate :-

1.    A caudal humeral head deficit in the left shoulder joint which it is certain represents a typical OCD lesion.

2.    An area of lucency in the right caudal humeral head which it is likely represents an early lesion as in 1.

3.    Bilateral elbow dysplasia and secondary DJD with a 'step' lesion between the proximal articular surfaces of the radius and the ulna resulting in an asymmetrical widening of the radio humeral joint space. The coronoid processes appear fragmented.

4.    Severe subluxation of the left coxo femoral joint with estabilised DJD.  Degenerative Joint Disease

In summary this dog has a catalogue of relevant orthopaedic disorders which are at present I believe best treated conservatively. it is possible that lameness associated with the shoulder OCD.

Osteocongrosis lesion may benefit from flap/mouse removal and curettage but "Bernie" would have to be significantly more lamb following conservative management before I would be convinced. The left coxofemoral joint may not respond well to conservative management and if medical therapy fails later in life then THR may be considered providing the other joints 'settle'.

I the meantime as discussed by telephone on the 5th October  "Bernie" should receive only 10 minutes close lead walks 4-5 times daily and have his overall dietary intake cut by 20%. I have advised your client to stop supplementing his diet with "stress" and to continue feeding a complete puppy food (but in future without the extra meat/tripe). This regime of diet/exercise restriction should continue until "Bernie" is 12 -14 months old after which a moderate increase in exercise is advised. Judicious use of NSAID'S may be required as clinical needs dictate but in his present state of lameness they should be avoided.

He is currently 38.4kg.


When berni was only 8 months this was a shock to discover that he had these problems this was a big learning curve a to deal with his condition.

 It was decided with the vet to manage the conditions conservatory. This entailed not operating on the OCD lesions in the shoulders until he grows, as the vet said they would disappear which they did.

I was advised to exercise berni gently by walking his three times a day for no more than 5 minuets every day. After a week to increase the time by 10% until I get to 15mins. He was given pain relief and cosequin ds regularly then once he was not displaying and signs of lameness he only had pain relief as required but maintained cosequin ds.  

Berni was x-rayed again at 18 months to see how he developed.  I followed the vets advice and age 3 years berni was operated on as he did get more lameness in his front legs. 

This involved more x-rays and this led to having the vet to operate on both elbows, the most lame elbow was operated on which led to taking berni to waterlow kennels for hydrotherapy. The other elbow was operated on 6 months later. 

All the hip problems never was a cause for concern, once the exercise plan was introduced and the hydrotherapy which also helped.

Please don't be confused by the terminology, but because berni was so young he needed to grow first. Any surgical interventions was best done after he had done most of his growing. His pain was managed by controlled exercise and some painkillers. I learnt to feed him and keep him on the lower end of his recommended weight.
Bernese Mountain Dogs weight is between 45 - 55kg. He never was overweight as this would of caused him pain.  The OCD lesion in his left shoulder went away with no surgical intervention was needed for this. 


Berni was my first bernese mountain dog and I learnt allot with him and about the breed health. Even with researching the breed and the health problems you can hopefully avoid issues but puppies do not come with a guarantee.




The Adolescence Look !!!!


We went to the silver jubilee carting weekend but he only posed as he was not allowed to pull anything.


Berni had his first elbow operated on in April 1998 and then the other operated on march 1999.
This photo taken after his First operation on his elbow.


hydrotherapy after his operation. At his first session I felt bad as he seemed to panic when in the water but he settled down after a few minuets and he got comfortable as he developed and got stronger. It helped his recovery and his fitness improved as long walks were not an option.
Waterlow Kennels in Norfolk



Over the years of a good life berni attended the vets many times. After the elbow operations he never really had many problems with severe lameness. But I always believe as he got older he would have problems with arthritis.


berni Relaxing

 Berni playing with an apple in the snow


This was not the case he develop Episcleritis. This is a condition of the eyes which he got at the start of 2002 and after many trips to the vets with a referral to a specialist eye vets. The vets took a biopsy of the eye. It had to be treated with special concentrate of eye drops which did help for a short time. we successfully treated it for a short time. But after seeing the eyes deteriorate and unable to stop the pain the difficult decision to but him to sleep was made, even after thinking of maybe removing both of his eyes to hold on to such a wonderful loving dog, that had given me so much love. I even telephone an eye specialist in America just to talk to another specialist who was very sympathetic. I felt it would have been for me than his benefit, he was seven years old.


We had many a good time out and about.

On holiday and looking good.

I believe with the help of good vets berni had a good life that managed his conditions well, because he lived to a good age considering all his health problems.

After a few years I learned that his insurance would not payout on this condition anymore. It was then I had to find money to pay for the long term treatment. I did not have the correct insurance, but once your pet has a condition changing insurance is not worth it especially with such complicated mix of problems.

After this I never went for the cheapest insurance again always read and understand your policy.




Bernese Chat room site
Bernese Mountain Dog Club in GB
Waterlow Kennels
London Road Vets
Gillham House Vets

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