Dr. Chris Bern

21 Years Experience

Cartersville, GA

Male, 49

I have been a practicing veterinarian since 1997, but have been in and around the profession since 1984. I am a general practitioner and see most pet species, from dogs and cats to parrots and snakes. In my job I do everything from routine vaccinations to complex surgeries and difficult medical cases. Becoming a vet takes hard work and dedication but can be very rewarding.

SubscribeGet emails when new questions are answered. Ask Me Anything!Show Bio +


Ask me anything!

Submit Your Question

116 Questions


Last Answer on January 14, 2019

Best Rated

Assuming my pet is of good/normal health, would you recommend I purchase an animal healthcare insurance plan or just stick with pay-as-you go services?

Asked by Mellie over 8 years ago

It really depends on the insurance plan, and I'm not familiar with all of the ones out there. Currently pet insurance requires you to pay for the services yourself and then you get reimbursed for a percentage of qualified services, so you still have to have the money. It's a good idea to consider it and look over the details of the various plans. If you're just worried about catastrophic care (sudden illness or injury) you can self-insure by setting money aside in a separate savings account. I would recommend at least $500, but honestly $1000 would be best. Complicated surgeries can easily run $2000-3000. If you're very disciplined just set up a "pet fund" yourself and use it only for unexpected care. Regardless of which direction you go, please be prepared for emergencies. It's very common for pet owners to have do decline care because they can't pay for it, and the pet ends up suffering, taking longer to recover, or being euthanized.

Do you think keeping monkeys as pets is a bad idea?

Asked by Tr3 over 8 years ago

Primates as pets are a VERY bad idea. They look cute but they are not pets. They can be very temperamental and aggressive and are far stronger than most people realize. Primates can also be destructive and are not domesticated to be comfortable with human environments. Additionally there are numerous diseases that humans can catch from primates, making them a significant health risk. You also won't find many vets who will work with them because of the need for specialized equipment and a lack of training that we get. Unless you have a licensed zoo or need a small monkey as a service animal, I don't think people should have them as pets.

Do you ever recommend outright that a client have his/her pet put down, or do you allow them to come to that conclusion themselves?

Asked by Dan79 over 8 years ago

I actually get this question frequently. Many people don't want to make that kind of decision themselves and ask if I think that they should euthanize. If the pet is very sick or injured to the point that quality of life will be poor without treatment, or there really isn't any possibility of treatment, I will bring it up as an option. Rarely will I come right out and say "you should euthanize" because this is a very personal decision and sometimes the client isn't ready to decide at that moment, but there have been times when I've been this direct because I feel the pet is really suffering. I believe that my job is to provide information and options and help the client come to the best decision for themselves and their pet. It's not my pet so I can't make the decision for them, but I can certainly guide them.

What's the oddest pet you've ever seen someone walk in with?

Asked by Tr3 over 8 years ago

Considering that I work with a lot of exotic pets that's a bit tough. In my first job we had a client with a private zoo, so I saw some primates as well as smaller cats like caracals and servals. In general practice the oddest one was an oscar (fish). The client brought him in a wheeled drink cooler filled with his water to have me look at a tumor growing from him. I've seen snakes, pet lizards, sugar gliders, hedgehogs, and just about anything you can buy in a pet store.

I've never understood how vets diagnose pets without being able to ask things like 'where it hurts' or 'what the symptoms are'. How do you go about figuring out what's wrong if someone brings in a dog who "just doesn't seem like himself"?

Asked by Justina over 8 years ago

It's actually not that different than when pediatricians work on infants or very young toddlers. We are trained to take detailed histories, piecing together a probable cause based on what has happened at home. For a trained doctor a thorough physical exam can give many clues as to what is going on. Sometimes what you don't find can be as important as what you do find and helps us narrow down the possibilities. If we can't figure out the problem based on the exam we have to start running diagnostic tests before coming to a conclusion. Yes, it would be easier if our patients could speak, but we spend much of our education learning to overcome such limitations.

Who are the bigger hypochondriacs - dog owners or cat owners?

Asked by Gracie Jane over 8 years ago

Okay, I'm probably going to get in a little trouble here. Cat owners do tend to be a bit more "out there" than your average dog owner. That being said, statistically cat owners are less likely to bring their pets in than dog owners. It seems to me that more dog owners see their pets as family members than do cat owners. Taking all of that together I might give the slight edge to dog owners but it really comes down to the individual person.

Do patients ever try and blame you if their pets take a turn for the worse?

Asked by Milana over 8 years ago

First, just a clarification. In our business the patients are the animals and the clients are the owners. Possibly a minor semantic, but one that's important when we discuss cases. Yes, I have had clients blame me for bad outcomes, though thankfully not very often. Some people have a hard time understanding that no doctor can be 100% correct 100% of the time, or that there are cases that we simply can't help. Sometimes our initial diagnosis and treatment isn't correct, but that's not uncommon in medicine (not just veterinary). In may illnesses correct diagnosis can be a long process and we can't always get it right on the first try. Diagnosing disease isn't as easy as many people seem to think, especially if the client declines some of the diagnostics we recommend. Have I made mistakes? Sure, I'm only human. And if you have any doctor (human or animal) tell you they have never misdiagnosed a case or chosen the wrong treatment they are lying to you. Such situations are thankfully rare, but do happen.