Experienced and professional animal trainer provide their insights in answering this question :
A. Your dog should be tested yearly, usually in the spring. If he has not been on a heartworm preventative, he should be tested right away. It used to be that dogs were given the preventative from around May through December, but January thaws can bring out the mosquitoes (sources of heartworm disease) too, so many keep their dogs on the medicine year-round.

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Heartworm tests are recommended on a yearly basis for dogs. They are required in order to refill your heartworm prevention (If you are getting your heartworm prevention from a website that doesn`t require a current heartworm test, find somewhere else to get your medication from.
In a word, yes. Heartworm testing is very important to the health of your dog. If your dog is heartworm positive and you put it on certain types of heartworm preventative, it could have detrimental effects, including death.
All dogs are at risk of heartworms, which is why it`s so important to test regularly and use a monthly preventative. There are two types of heartworm tests available: Antigen tests: these tests can detect the presence of heartworm proteins in the blood 6.5-7 months after infection.
If you forget a month of preventative, make sure to give the next 2 doses on time to “catch up” for that missed month. If you miss several months in a row, you should give your vet a call for advice on when to plan for the next heartworm test and how to get started back on preventatives.
Heartworm Tests Are Not Necessary to Get Preventative Medication.
Heartworm disease can be prevented in dogs and cats by giving them medication once a month that also controls various internal and external parasites. Heartworm infections are diagnosed in about 250,000 dogs each year. 1 But there is no good reason for dogs to receive preventives all year; it is just not needed.
Heartgard has the active ingredient ivermectin in it. Ivermectin has a half-life of 2 days in the dog. That means 1/2 of the drug is eliminated from the body in 2 days. So at most it is active for 4 days per month.
Proheart 12 is an injectable heartworm prevention that is given once a year (hence the 12 – meaning 12 months of protection) to dogs older than one-year-of-age.
It is recommended by most veterinarians and by the manufacturers of the Heartworm medications that each dog have a test prior to receiving the medications each year, to ensure that the pet is free from Heartworm disease.
Does my dog need heartworm medicine year-round? Yes, your dog needs heartworm medicine year-round. Just because mosquitoes may hibernate in the winter doesn`t mean they`re gone. And just because you live in a colder state doesn`t mean your dog is safe either.
Heartworm medications are highly effective, but dogs can still become infected. If you miss just one dose of a monthly medication—or give it late—it can leave your dog unprotected. Even if you give the medication as recommended, your dog may spit out or vomit a heartworm pill—or rub off a topical medication.
The American Heartworm Society recommends administering a heartworm preventive medication 12 months a year for the life of your pet.
How Often To Give Heartworm Drugs. Most heartworm drugs come with instructions to give them every 30 days. But according to many holistic vets, the monthly drugs are just as effective if you give them every 45 days, and 99 percent as effective if given every 60 days.
Heartworm Disease Causes Lifelong Damage.
Heartworm infection can become severe if left untreated with life-threatening health conditions and even death.
In the past, the drug used to treat heartworm disease contained high levels of arsenic, and toxic side effects frequently occurred. A newer drug is available that does not have as many side effects, allowing successful treatment of more than 95% of dogs with heartworms.
No one wants to hear that their dog has heartworm, but the good news is that most infected dogs can be successfully treated. The goal is to first stabilize your dog if he is showing signs of disease, then kill all adult and immature worms while keeping the side effects of treatment to a minimum.
April is Heartworm Prevention Month, and there are important reasons veterinarians across the United States promote heartworm prevention this month and throughout the year. While the risk of heartworm is more prevalent in spring and summer when there are more mosquitos, a pet can get heartworm any time of year.
However, due to the heartworm life-cycle, it is likely that giving the medication every 45 to 60 days, rather than every 30 days, will allow immature heartworms to develop into adult heartworms. In other words, heartworm prevention medication is not effective when given every 45 to 60 days.
For this reason, we only need to protect our pets during the summer months, providing that they don`t travel to anywhere warm during the winter months. We protect our pets from May or June 1st – November 1st each year to keep them heartworm free. DO I NEED A HEARTWORM TEST FOR MY PET EVERY YEAR?
Testing for Adult Worms: The American Heartworm Society recommends using the Heartworm Antigen Test as the primary method of testing for adult heartworm infection. This test is specific for adult female heartworms.
Heartworm disease in dogs is known as a silent killer, because it can take months before your dog shows symptoms. In the early stages of infection, most dogs show little to no symptoms at all, and the more the disease progresses, the more likely apparent symptoms will develop.
The earliest that microfilariae can be detected in a dog`s bloodstream is about 6 months after it is bitten by an infected mosquito (because it takes about that long for the heartworms to develop from infective larvae into adults that mate and produce microfilariae).

Relevant Questions and Answers :

the most relevant questions and answers related to your specific issue

Q. Vet is saying our dog has heartworm based on a sonogram. All tests are negative and he has no cough. I am very confused
ANSWER : A. Very rarely, a dog can have a heartworm infection and still test negative on an antigen test since the antigen tested for is produced only by the female worms. If the heartworms were not fully mature, or there were only male worms present, the antigen test result in infected animals would be falsely negative. This means the test result is negative when the animal is really infected.

An antibody test will be positive even if only one male worm is present. But this test has a downfall, too. Although it is very good at giving positive results when an infection is present, a positive antibody test just means the animal has been exposed to heartworms, but may or may not currently have heartworm disease. A negative antibody test means the animal has never been exposed to heartworms.

If they are actually seeing the heartworms via ultrasound, I would follow precautions by restricting exercise. This requirement might be difficult to adhere to, especially if your dog is accustomed to being active. But your dog’s normal physical activities must be restricted as soon as the diagnosis is confirmed, because physical exertion increases the rate at which the heartworms cause damage in the heart and lungs. The more severe the symptoms, the less activity your dog should have. And the diagnosis should be confirmed. Once a dog tests positive on an antigen test, the diagnosis should be confirmed with an additional—and different—test. Because the treatment regimen for heartworm is both expensive and complex, your veterinarian will want to be absolutely sure that treatment is necessary.

Q. Whenever I take my dog on walks he always barks at people and others dogs in my neighborhood. What should I do to resolve the problem
ANSWER : A. The very first thing to do is to make sure your dog is getting sufficient physical and mental exercise every day. A tired dog is a good, happy dog and one who is less likely to bark from boredom or frustration. Depending on his breed, age, and health, your dog may require several long walks as well as a good game of chasing the ball and playing with some interactive toys.

Figure out what he gets out of barking and remove it. Don’t give your dog the opportunity to continue the barking behavior.

Ignore your dog’s barking for as long as it takes him to stop. That means don’t give him attention at all while he’s barking. Your attention only rewards him for being noisy. Don’t talk to, don’t touch, or even look at him. When he finally quiets, even to take a breath, reward him with a treat. To be successful with this method, you must wait as long as it takes for him to stop barking. Yelling at him is the equivalent of barking with him.

Get your dog accustomed to whatever causes him to bark. Start with whatever makes him bark at a distance. It must be far enough away that he doesn’t bark when he sees it. Feed him lots of good treats. Move the stimulus a little closer (perhaps as little as a few inches or a few feet to start) and feed treats. If the stimulus moves out of sight, stop giving your dog treats. You want your dog to learn that the appearance of the stimulus leads to good things.

Teach your dog the ‘quiet’ command. Oddly, the first step is to teach your dog to bark on command. Give your dog the command to “speak,” wait for him to bark two or three times, and then stick a tasty treat in front of his nose. When he stops barking to sniff the treat, praise him and give him the treat. Repeat until he starts barking as soon as you say “speak.” Once your dog can reliably bark on command, teach him the “quiet” command. In a calm environment with no distractions, tell him to “speak.” When he starts barking, say “quiet” and stick a treat in front of his nose. Praise him for being quiet and give him the treat.

As in all training, always end training on a good note, even if it is just for obeying something very simple, like the ‘sit’ command. If you dog regresses in training, go back to the last thing he did successfully and reinforce that before moving on again. Keep sessions short, 15-20 minutes max, and do this several times a day.

Q. How do I determine how much my overweight pet should weigh?
ANSWER : A. There are many tools to determine overweight and obesity levels in pets. A new tool, morphometric measurements and body fat index, are available to accurately determine a pet’s ideal weight; this will allow an accurate determination of the amount of food a pet should receive to achieve weight loss. Feeding the correct amount will lead to greater weight loss success.

There are many weight loss food options to help pets reach their ideal weight. Your veterinarian can help make a ideal weight recommendation. Here are some tips to help your dog lose weight in a healthy and safe way:

1. Diet: Providing a healthy and well balanced diet is essential to your pet’s overall health. Finding the right food for your dog can be a challenging process. For those overweight animals many commercial dog companies offer weight loss diets, but it is important to evaluate food labels for adequate nutritional content.

You want to ensure you are not missing other essential vitamin or mineral content. Volume of food is also important and the amount of food that works for one breed of dog may not be the same for another breed of dog. Portion control as opposed to free-choice feeding can help your dog to drop a few unnecessary pounds.

There are also prescription weight loss foods designed by veterinary nutritionists, such as Hill’s r/d (http://bit.ly/1AoENSd). Some pet owners find that home cooking is the best option for helping to provide a well-balanced and realistic diet plan. There are websites such as balanceit.com that offers recipes to fit your dog’s specific needs. Consulting with your veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist to find the appropriate diet is a great way to help your dog be as healthy as possible.

2. Exercise: Another great tactic for weight loss for your dog is exercise. Whether this is through running, walking or playing with a favorite toy all of these are wonderful types of exercise to help keep your dog at a lean and healthy weight.

For those pet owners with busy schedules utilizing professional dog walking services or playtime through dog daycare services is another option. It has been shown that those pet owners that exercise regularly with their pets generally live a healthier lifestyle.

3. Physical therapy: As animals age pet owners offer encounter their favorite canine having more difficulty walking and have a dwindling desire to play with toys. Physical therapy, specifically hydrotherapy is a wonderful way to help older and arthritic animals gain more mobility and lose weight. Hydrotherapy has been proven to have several therapeutic effects on the body including, muscle strengthening, relief of swelling, decreased joint pain, less stiffness in limbs, improved circulation, weight loss, and increased tissue healing to name a few. For more information on the benefits of hydrotherapy:
http://bit.ly/1w1qqoy

4. Veterinary visit and blood work: Weight gain can also be related to underlying health concerns such as hypothyroidism or other endocrine disorders. Scheduling a veterinary evaluation and routine blood work can be another important component in increasing the longevity of your dog’s life. Conditions such as hypothyroidism that predispose dogs to gain weight can be treated with a daily medication to improve hormonal balance. If feel that your dog is unnecessarily overweight there can be an underlying health condition that needs to be addressed.

5. Healthy treats: Pet owners love the chance to reward their favorite canine companion with treats and most dogs jump at the chance to consume these delicious products. The problem is many treats, which can include commercial dog treats or table scrapes can add many unnecessary calories to your dog’s daily intake. Reading labels and making note of the calories in these treats is an important component of understanding your dog’s overall health. Treats should not exceed more than 10 percent of your pet’s daily calories. There are healthier treats that can be offered to your pet to keep calories lower yet provide a fuller sensation. A pet owner can add steamed or pureed vegetables, such as carrots, green beans or sweet potato to add more fiber and thus a fuller feeling for your dog.

Q. Rescued a dog almost two weeks ago, and now that her kennel cough is gone her personality shines!! No previous training, how should I start?
ANSWER : A. POST FOUR:

After your dog is familiar with the behavior you lured from scratch, and taught to your dog, you can start to use the “no-reward marker” I talked about. What you do is ask the dog to perform the behavior, and if the dog does not perform the behavior, you simply say your no-reward marker (choose one: eh-eh, hey, uh-oh, oops) show them the treat, put it behind your back, and BRIEFLY ignore your dog. Just turn your back for a second or two, before turning back to your dog and saying, “let’s try that again.” When you’re ready to start over with your dog, make sure you move around. If you are repeating the same cue while in the same position, while your dog is in the same position, you are likely to receive the same results. The more you move around, and start fresh, the better your chances are of having your dog listen to your cue the second time around. BIG rewards when they dog it successfully! Lots of praise and treats.

My no-reward marker is “hey.” When my dog does something wrong I say, “hey” and she immediately understands that she needs to offer a different behavior. This is clear to her. I don’t have to say it in a mean way, I simply say, “hey” in a normal tone of voice and she understands what the word means.

Once you’ve built up that connection and communication with your new dog, you can work on all kinds of fun behaviors! I personally enjoy the more zen-like behaviors: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ruy9UMcuGh8

I like to teach my dog fun tricks that offer her a “job” to do of sorts like object retrieval: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4iertZSva8

(object retrieval training completed; what it looks like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jx0Dml28FGY)

Scent-games are fun too! Very confidence building. Hide a REALLY smelly treat in a box, and place that box in a line of boxes. Let your dog go in the room while saying something like “search!” or “find it!” and watch them hunt for that smelly treat! Lots of rewards when they find it!

Q. Which common foods are poisonous to pets?
ANSWER : A. That’s a great question. As responsible pet owners we need to be aware of food items that can be harmful to our canine or feline companions. Here are some of the most common foods proven to cause illness in our animals at home:

Chocolate: A favorite and irresistible treat amongst most humans, chocolate is considered toxic to dogs. In very small amounts it is usually not a huge issue, but with larger volumes and with darker chocolates pet owners should be concerned. Chocolate contains methylxanthine theobromine, which is similar to caffeine. Chocolate ingestion can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, issues with normal heartbeats, seizures, and in some severe cases, death. It is best to keep your favorite chocolate treats in a good hiding spot and out of reach of your dog or cat.

Grapes and raisins: Dogs should not consume grapes and raisins because of the risk of acute kidney failure. Most dogs experiencing grape or raisin toxicity will begin to have vomiting and/or diarrhea within 6-12 hours of ingestion. Other abnormal clinical signs include lethargy, abdominal pain, dehydration, and tremors. Kidney failure develops within 24-72 hours of the initial ingestion. There are some dogs that do not experience these devastating side effects. It is best to contact your veterinarian or veterinary emergency facility if you believe your pet has ingested grapes or raisins.

Garlic and onions: We often forget that our meals contain these two popular ingredients and will allow our furry companions a few bites or licks. Onion and garlic both can cause a type of poisoning that results in damage to red blood cells, making them more likely to rupture. They can also cause stomach upset and mouth irritation. Look for pale gums, increased breathing or drooling or any vomiting or diarrhea.

Bread dough: Unbaked bread dough is considered poisonous to our pets. The bread dough, when ingested, expands in the stomach because of the warm and moist environment. This can lead to a bloated or even twisted stomach. In addition yeast is often added to our baking products to help get bread to rise, and when this yeast is fermented it produces both carbon dioxide and alcohol. The alcohol produced can be absorbed into the bloodstream and causes dangerous drops in blood sugar, blood pressure and body temperature. Common clinical signs include vomiting or retching, distension of the stomach, weakness and collapse.

Macadamia nuts: Ingestion of these nuts are not proven to be fatal in dogs but can cause them to experience uncomfortable clinical sings, including fever, joint stiffness, vomiting, tremors and difficulty walking, especially in their hind legs. Often your pet will start to feel better after about 48 hours, but supportive veterinary care (such as pain medication) may help ease their discomfort.

Xylitol: The most common ingredient used in sugar-free gum is xylitol, which is a non-caloric sweetener. It is also found in some oral rinses, toothpastes and vitamins. Xylitol and dogs do not mix – it can cause a dangerous drop in blood sugars levels. Dogs will often display signs of disorientation, black tarry stool, tremors and seizures. If severe enough some dogs have developed liver failure. Keep your gum away from your canine companion.

Avocados: Avocados are not actually poisonous to dogs or cats but as many veterinarians can tell you the avocado pits can cause a foreign body obstruction. Avocados contain persin, which is actually toxic to the majority of pet birds. The abnormal clinical signs associated with avocado ingestion in birds include, respiratory distress, inability to perch, liver and kidney failure and sudden death.

Go forth and enjoy your favorite foods, but keep in mind which foods you should avoid sharing with your furry family members. Whenever in doubt, contact your veterinarian for healthy and safe food suggestions.

Q. Can giving a dog heartworm preventative to a dog that has heartworms make them sick?
ANSWER : A. YES. Never give a heartworm medication to a dog positive for heartworm unless instructed to do so by a vet.

Heartworm medications require a negative test prior to administration. This is due to the fact that giving a heartworm medication to a dog that is positive may kill off the adult worms too quickly. This can cause worms to become lodged in smaller blood vessels in the body which may lead to loss of blood to vital body parts and organs.

If your dog is heartworm positive, treatment usually involves a slow administration of medications to kill the worms under veterinary monitoring. Some vets may recommend hospitalizing a dog during their first treatment so that emergency care can be given if there is an adverse reaction or a worm becomes lodged in a vessel. A more recent procedure is to do a day-long “fast” die off of worms under monitor to prevent worms from repopulating that may occur during a longer term treatment.

Q. Why do dogs eat grass?
ANSWER : A. Some pet parents get concerned when they see their favorite canine nibbling on grass in the yard. They wonder whether it is because hunger, boredom or an indication of an underlying illness. Often the consumption of grass will result in vomiting because it irritates the stomach and gastrointestinal tract. This is an extremely common problem for dog parents. There is no one reason for why dogs exhibit these behaviors and it is very much dependent on each dog. Here are some of the reasons why our dogs choose to eat grass:

1. Nutritional Issues

Historically speaking, dogs are considered omnivores, which mean they consume a variety of both meat and plant-based food. There is some indication that dogs with a low fiber diet may choose to scavenge in the grass to fulfill this nutritional deficiency. These dogs may also find that grass has an appealing flavor and consistency. If you feel that this may be the reason for your beloved canine consuming grass then consider discussing with your veterinarian on how to incorporate more fiber into your dog’s diet.

2. Boredom

Many dogs who are not receiving adequate exercise will be become bored and search out activities to occupy their time, including eating grass. Evaluate how much exercise your dog is getting on a daily basis and consider more walks or other fun activities, such as playing fetch or tug of war.

3. Upset Stomach

There is a belief that dogs with an upset or gassy stomach will self-medicate by consuming grass. Vomiting often follows this grass eating activity eliminating the contents of the stomach or changing the gas distension within the gastrointestinal tract. However, there is not much scientific evidence to back up this theory. If you are concerned about too much gastric acid in your dog’s stomach or any other underlying medical issue that could be the reason for their grass eating, consult with your veterinarian.

Overall, grass eating is usually not toxic to your dogs unless your lawn contains chemicals, including pesticides or herbicides. Monitor your dog’s behavior along with his diet and exercise to determine if there is a reason for the inappropriate grass snacking.

Q. Why does my dog eat grass?
ANSWER : A. As another user mentioned, dogs can eat grass when they want to vomit. Sometimes, when a dog has an upset tummy, they will eat grass. If you notice your dog eating grass frantically, you can assume vomiting will shortly follow. Grass does not digest and pass normally. If your dog eats too much grass, it can cause serious issues with pooping. Your dogs poop can end up all tangled inside of her, and it can need veterinary assistance to remove it. The same goes for celery, so avoid feeding celery to your dog.

The other day my boyfriend accidentally left the laundry room door open where we were keeping the trash that was filled with cooked chicken bones. She ate one of the chicken bones lightning fast. We had to induce vomiting by feeding her some hydrogen peroxide. After we had fed her the peroxide, she immediately began frantically eating grass because her tummy was upset.

If there is something lacking in your dogs diet, it could be that your dog is eating grass to make up for it. I am sure that my dogs diet is extremely well balanced (I do not only feed her an air-dried raw food-type diet (Ziwipeak), but a wide variety of safe, healthy foods), so when she eats grass, I know that it is because she has an upset tummy.

That is why I think it is important making sure your dog has a very well balanced diet. If your dog is on a low quality kibble, your dog may be trying to let you know by eating grass (or eating poop).