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.

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113 Questions


Last Answer on January 14, 2019

Best Rated

My dog is such a lover and is so affectionate. But she gets so upset when I leave and cries like crazy (even if someone else is home with her). It breaks my heart! Is there a way to train her to stop? Why doesn't she realize I always come home?

Asked by ColeD almost 7 years ago

Animals don't have long-term memories in the same way that we do. They also do not have the same sense of time. So when you leave the house she doesn't remember that you'll come home in five minutes or five days. Also, it sounds like she has a bit of separation anxiety, a very well-recognized and studied disorder. There are several methods of treatment, from behavioral therapy to antianxiety medications. Such treatment requires a lot of work and consultation, and isn't something that can be handled here. I would recommend talking to your vet about the various options. If your vet doesn't feel qualified to handle behavioral cases, ask them for a recommendation of someone who does.

Is there an age after which there's no point in bringing a dog to obedience school? Like, does it HAVE to happen when it's a puppy?

Asked by Mark almost 7 years ago

Training is much, much easier as a puppy. Socialization is especially important. There is a "window" during which the brain is actively developing social skills and takes to new experiences and training best. That window closes around 16 weeks old! So your puppy's experiences in the first four months of life help determine how they act for the rest of their life. That being said, it's never too late. Basic training and obedience can be taught at any age, though older dogs' brains are more set in their ways making certain skills harder to pick up.

Is table food bad for pets, or is that an old wives' tale? (I don't mean bacon, french fries, chocolate cake, etc... I mean table food that's generally healthy for humans.)

Asked by Elle7 almost 7 years ago

This is absolutely true. First of all, an animal's digestive tract is quite different than ours and they are designed to digest different types of food. Pets given our foods may not absorb or properly digest our foods. Some human foods can severely upset their intestines or stomach, causing vomiting or diarrhea at the mild end, and life-threatening inflammation of the pancreas at the severe end. Highly fatty foods (such as meat scraps) or very spicy foods are especially likely to cause problems. Some human foods are actually toxic to pets. Onions and garlic are extremely dangerous to cats, to the point that even powdered versions can cause severe illness or death. Grapes and raisins have been known to cause kidney failure in dogs. The average pet owner won't know which foods are dangerous and which aren't. If a pet starts to get used to people food they might stop eating their own food. This can lead to nutritional imbalances and deficiencies, as a human diet isn't properly balanced for a dog or cat. It can also encourage picky eating. Bottom is a very, very bad idea to feed human food to pets.

Do you agree that pet cats should always be kept indoors?

Asked by cracked09 almost 7 years ago

For the most part, yest I do. All of my cats are strictly indoors. Other than cancer and organ failure, the majority of the illnesses and injuries I see in cats are related to being outside, including bite wounds, fractures, communicable diseases, and so on. Statistically the average life span for an outside cat is around 12 years old and for an indoor cat is around 16. I realize that some cats can't make the transition to being inside or the owners can't keep them inside (allergies or other problems) so I don't get upset if someone has an outside cat. But I do believe that they are healthier and live longer on average.

Do animals feel pain as severely as people? Last year my parents made us get our cat declawed even though I told them it would hurt her. Even if she didn't feel it, I don't think she's been as playful since.

Asked by caroline almost 7 years ago

There are really two things to address here. First of all, yes, animals do feel pain in the same way that we do. And perhaps I should qualify that to say "higher" animals like the ones we keep as pets. Their nervous system is structured like ours, and pain can not only be debilitating but it can also cause physiological stress. Beginning about 15-20 years ago there has been a concerted effort in the veterinary field to recognize the harmful effects of pain on the body, and find ways to control it. Animals may not always show pain in the same way that we do, but they certainly feel it. Pain control should be an essential part of any surgery and post-operative period (NOT optional), and should be considered in any illness or injury. In any given situation, surgery, illness, or trauma, think about whether or not YOU would be hurting and if YOU would want something for the pain. If the answer is yes, then that animal needs pain medication also. The second issue here is that of declawing. Let me be honest in saying that I used to do this procedure, but about 2 years ago decided to no longer perform the surgery. It is an extremely painful surgery and has the potential for chronic problems (though most don't have these issues). I also personally feel that it is an unnecessary surgery where we as a profession have deluded ourselves into thinking it's acceptable. We are using surgery to try and correct what is a behavioral issue. A good analogy would be de-barking a puppy who is constantly yapping. I don't know any vets who would agree with removing a dog's vocal cords, and it's generally considered by most to be inhumane. I don't see declawing as any different. This is my own opinion, but it is shared by many.

Do people ever come in and ask you to prescribe ADD or anti-depressant meds for pets?

Asked by anna_b almost 7 years ago

I really don't have clients ask for these, but I do prescribe them. Animal behavior is a very strong interest of mine and I've done additional self-education in this area. I think that behavioral medications certainly have their place in treating certain disorders and am familiar with their use. Just yesterday I refilled a prescription for Prozac for a dog.

Weird question, but is there a such thing as plastic surgery for pets? People adorn their pets with so many stupid clothes and costumes, and I've heard of some dying their pets nothing surprises me anymore.

Asked by Best in Show almost 7 years ago

Cosmetic surgery can be done! Most of the time such surgery is reconstructive after a serious injury, cancer, and so on, with the goal to return the pet's appearance and even functionality. If you think about it, ear cropping, tail docking, and dewclaw removals are all cosmetic (i.e. "plastic" surgery) as they serve no real medical purpose. People have those surgeries done on their pets because the owners want them to have a certain physical "look". Beyond that I'm sure there are vets who will do a strictly cosmetic procedure, especially in certain parts of the US where owners have lots of money and have such things done on themselves. Most vets I know are against purely cosmetic procedures.