Dr. Chris Bern

Cartersville, GA

Male, 42

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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108 Questions


Last Answer on July 05, 2017

Best Rated

Hello. A few hours ago I was on a bed and when I stepped off the bed I stepped on my dogs front paw. She has been limping on it, I lightly moved her paw and toes, she didnt yelp but flinched a little bit. I feel bad and I am not sure what to do.

Asked by Liz almost 5 years ago

This may sound trite or callous, but it's not intended as such. When something like this happens you should call your vet, not go to the internet. It may not be anything serious, but there is no way someone online can properly diagnose a pet. You will need to have a vet examine your dog and then determine if there is a real concern. I know people want to save money and that there is a ton of information on the Web, but the health of your pet is worth at least an office visit.

If you had to guess, what % of your clients pay for visits through animal healthcare insurance vs. out-of-pocket? And is dealing with insurance companies one of your biggest headaches?

Asked by Go 'Canes! almost 5 years ago

Here in the US it's less than 1% of clients. Pet insurance is also very different than human insurance. With pet insurance the client actually pays for the medical bill themselves and then is reimbursed a certain amount based on their policy. Vets actually never deal directly with the insurance companies, so it's pretty easy for us.

Can ANY cat be an indoor OR an outdoor cat, or should some species be kept as one or the other? When my indoor cat pokes his head outside when the front door's open, he starts sneezing like crazy. Is it because he's not used to the pollen?

Asked by Smelanie almost 5 years ago

Technically any cat can be either indoor or outdoor. However, I do think that some cats should remain indoors. Long-haired cats will be more likely to get twigs, leaves, and brambles in their fur, as well as have a higher tendency for matting. Hairless cats like the Sphinx have less insulation or protection due to the lack of fur, and so shouldn't go outside. Beyond that a particular breed isn't more or less likely to have problems. Your indoor cat may be sniffing heavily, bringing in more air and dust particles, therefore causing tickling of the sinuses. Pollen isn't the only cause of irritation in the nasal passages. Because he's not used to going outside he'll be sniffing and investigating more than a cat who was outside frequently.

Why do race horses get put down if they break a leg? I know they won't race again, but isn't it still really lucrative for the owner to put them out to stud?

Asked by lol_e2e4 almost 5 years ago

Horses are surprisingly delicate creatures. Their legs carry a lot of weight on a surprisingly small surface area. In essence they are putting all of their weight on their middle finger. Sure, the bone is wide, but it ends up being a lot of pressure. When they injure their leg sufficiently the can't heal well and often can't even walk. While a dog or cat can do very well with only three legs, a horse can't. Many injuries that can be fixed in pets with surgery and casts simply won't heal in horses, and they can't get around with a severely damaged leg. So it's not just a matter of them not being able to race's a matter of them not being able to move and thrive. Thankfully veterinary medicine has come a long way in treating bone injuries in horses and things that were once fatal can now be treated. However, there are still many injuries where it's more humane to euthanize the horse.

can dog and cat fleas survive and reproduce on human blood and is it possible for humans to cary fleas from home to there work place?

Asked by charlotte about 4 years ago

Fleas are nasty little creatures and are adept survivors.  There are actually many different species of fleas, but what most people come into contact with are "cat" fleas.  Despite the name they can live off of most warm blooded animals, including dogs, cats, raccoons, squirrles, and yes, humans.  We aren't their preferred host and they will typically chose animals over people, but they do just fine on human blood and will certainly reproduce after feeding on people.  A flea typically stays on its host during the adult part of its life cycle unless somehow removed.  While fleas have been known to come in from a yard into a home, hitching a ride on shoes and socks, a longer journey would be less likely but not impossible.

My dog is weird and barks at things on wheels. WHY DOES HE DO THAT? He goes crazy if someone goes by on a bike, skateboard, or rollerblades. But someone can be running (at around same speed as a bike) and he won't flinch.

Asked by Krass over 4 years ago

Without watching him myself this is purely speculation.  Sometimes it is the noise of the wheels, which is different from the sound of running or walking.  It can also be the motion of the wheels themselves.  This is different than legs and can trigger a different response.

Do you know of any/many people who became vets later in life? Do you have any views on how difficult or easy it is presuming studies have been successfully completed?

Asked by ?1 over 4 years ago

This is more common than you might think.  In my own veterinary class of 70 people at least 10 of them were in their 30s having had careers in other fields.  I knew a man who had a successful career in magazine publishing before deciding to go to vet school at 40.  Age or previous careers should not be any barrier to starting into veterinary medicine.  However, non-traditional students may not be as in the habit of studying as the ones starting in their 20s.  Also, it is increasingly expensive to become a vet and debt burdens are becoming unbearable and difficult to survive.  Becoming a vet at 40 gives you much less time to pay off debt than starting at 25, so that should be kept in mind.