Experienced and professional animal trainer provide their insights in answering this question :
A. You should take your dog to your vets for examination, maybe x-ray or ultrasound scan of the mass. Your vet may recommend needle aspiration of the mass to find out what it is. It is also possible that clinical examination only will be enough to make diagnosis.

How to Identify Common Pet Problems ?

Our sources include academic articles, blog posts, and personal essays from experienced pet care professionals :

Cancerous or malignant tumors can be hard or soft. The feel of a mass and whether it bothers your dog has little to do with whether it is cancerous or not.
Lipomas (fatty lumps)

Lipomas are the most common benign mass dogs can get; they`re often found under the skin of older dogs, and are more common in obese dogs. They tend to be round, soft tumours of fat cells that grow very slowly and rarely spread, so it can take up to six months before you see any change.

One of the best ways to identify a potentially cancerous lump is to evaluate how that tumor feels when touched. Compared to the soft, fatty characteristics of a lipoma, a cancerous lump will be harder and firm to the touch, appearing as a hard immovable lump on your dog.
Prognosis: Life expectancy for dogs with stomach cancer.

Overall survival times are commonly less than 6 months, with the possibility of the tumors growing back after treatment.

There are many types of soft tissue tumors, and not all of them are cancerous. Many benign tumors are found in soft tissues. The word benign means they`re not cancer. These tumors can`t spread to other parts of the body.
Soft tissue sarcoma is a broad term for cancers that start in soft tissues (muscle, tendons, fat, lymph and blood vessels, and nerves). These cancers can develop anywhere in the body but are found mostly in the arms, legs, chest, and abdomen.
Benign soft tissue tumors are noncancerous lumps under your skin. They develop anywhere you have soft tissue such as your muscles, tendons and fat. Depending on your situation, your healthcare provider may recommend surgery to remove the tumor and/or radiation therapy to keep the tumor from coming back (recurring).
Skin squamous cell carcinoma is the most commonly diagnosed form of skin cancer in dogs. These tumors appear as raised wart-like patches or lumps that are firm to the touch and are most often found on the dog`s head, lower legs, rear, and abdomen.
In dogs, the most common type of malignant skin cancer is a mast cell tumor. These tumors are superficial lumps that can be painful. They often swell, frequently bleed and then scab over, only to bleed again a few days later. They should not be squeezed by the owner, as squeezing can make them swell even more.
Dog Cyst vs Tumor: How Do I Tell The Difference? Cysts are fluid-filled sacs under the skin that are usually easy to move around, while tumors are typically more solid. A cyst also may drain a white, yellow, or green discharge.
A non-cancerous mass is an abnormal growth of cells that does not display cancer characteristics, or malignancy. Common non-cancerous tumors in dogs include sebaceous adenomas of the skin and lipomas (i.e., fatty tumors). Benign tumors can arise from many cell types, and occur anywhere in the body.
Most seem to be caused by a complex mix of risk factors, some environmental and some genetic or hereditary. In the case of stomach tumors, age, sex, and breed appear to be risk factors. Stomach tumors tend to develop in older dogs and cats.
Bumps that are cancerous are typically large, hard, painless to the touch and appear spontaneously. The mass will grow in size steadily over the weeks and months. Cancerous lumps that can be felt from the outside of your body can appear in the breast, testicle, or neck, but also in the arms and legs.
Lumps can appear anywhere on your body. Most lumps are harmless but it`s important to see a GP if you`re worried or the lump is still there after 2 weeks.
Mass – A quantity of material, such as cells, that unite or adhere to each other. Tumor – 1. A swelling or enlargement (tumor is Latin for swelling).
In fact, tumors may feel hard from the outside, but research has shown that individual cells within the tissue aren`t uniformly rigid, and can even vary in softness across the tumor.
A lump that feels firm and doesn`t easily move under the skin is more likely to be cancerous than a soft, moveable lump. But moveable lumps can be suspicious, too. If you`re at high risk for cancer, your doctor may recommend a biopsy for a lump without a known cause.
Typically, masses that are superficial and less than 5 cm in size tend to be benign, whereas, masses that are greater than 5 cm or found deep to the fascia have a higher likelihood of being malignant.
How do you know if a tumor is cancerous? A doctor may perform a physical exam and order blood tests if they suspect cancer, but the only way to confirm the presence of disease is with a biopsy.
Malignant soft tissue tumors are known as sarcomas. These tumors form in connective tissues, such as muscles, tendons, ligaments, fat and cartilage.
Liposarcoma – The most common form of soft tissue tumors, this form originates in fat cells and is most commonly diagnosed in adults over the age of 40.
With surgery alone, the median survival (50% alive) is 6 months. With surgery followed by chemotherapy, the median survival increases to 12 months. In case of incompletely excised grade III tumors, we recommend either a second surgery or radiation therapy.
It depends on how aggressive or advanced the particular cancer is. By the time it`s detected, some dogs will live weeks to months, while others will live for years. Lymphoma patients, for instance, can live several years.
They may grow quickly, over the course of a few weeks. More commonly they grow slowly over months or years. In advanced cases, the skin overlying the tumor can ulcerate or break open. This leaves dogs susceptible to pain and infection.

Relevant Questions and Answers :

the most relevant questions and answers related to your specific issue

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. 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. My dog keep hacking like a cough or something in her throat, what can I do?
ANSWER : A. Hacking and coughing can be caused by a number of things ranging from foreign bodies such as twigs stuck in the mouth or throat, to infections or illnesses such as Bordetella or Kennel cough, common in dogs that frequent kennels, dog daycare or dog parks. In older dogs, heart and lung issues can also be indicated by a cough that does not go away.

If you think there may be a foreign object stuck in your dog’s throat, you can sweep a finger gently through the back of the mouth or throat if your dog will let you. If something feels stuck and is not easily moved by the finger, it is best to contact your vet to have the object safely removed. This usually requires sedation so that your dog does not become panicked or move, causing the object to become further stuck or cut the throat.

If your dog is showing other symptoms of illness in addition to the cough such as runny nose or eyes, fever, lethargy or changes in appetite, it may indicate a viral or bacterial illness such as kennel cough. These are usually treated with a cough medication in severe cases, plus rest and treatment of any additional symptoms until the condition improves. In bacterial causes, antibiotics may also be given to help your dog feel better.

If your dog has a constant cough that does not go away, or has had changes in ability to exercise, breathing, or appears to have swelling around the chest or abdomen, in may indicate a lung or heart issue. Your vet can thoroughly examine your dog for any signs of heart or lung problems and can then offer care as needed depending on the cause.

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. My dog doesn’t eat, what should I do?
ANSWER : A. If this is a puppy, see a veterinarian immediately. Puppies should want to eat. Common causes for anorexia in puppies include viruses (parvo is a big one), parasitism, and foreign bodies. They need immediate care – go to an emergency vet if yours isn’t open. Puppies can get low blood sugar and dehydration very quickly.

If this is an adult dog and you observe other concerning signs, such as diarrhea or decreased energy, you should see a veterinarian.

If the dog seems otherwise bright and stable, try offering different types of food: wet food, canned tripe, or cooked chicken and rice. Some dogs will go for canned baby food: chicken, turkey, or beef as the main ingredient. Make sure there are no garlic or onions in the ingredients!

Causes of anorexia in adult dogs can range from less serious to severe. Younger dogs are more likely to get into trouble- they tend to eat things they shouldn’t, and can get foreign bodies from eating things like socks, or stomach upset from getting in the trash. Any dog may stop eating due to stress, or just being a picky eater. Middle aged dogs can stop eating when they’re stressed and also have Addison’s disease, which can be fatal. Older dogs tend to stop eating when they develop cancer or renal disease.

There is no one-size-fits-all recipe to know when the right time is to take your dog to the vet. The moral of this story is, if it’s not getting better, your pup feels bad, or you’re worried – go see the vet!

Read Full Q/A … : My Dog Won’t Eat

Q. My dog licks his feet and legs and they are turning brown. He is a white dog. Can you help?
ANSWER : A. Licking the feet and legs can be caused by a number of things in dogs including allergies, illness or even stress behaviors. Allergies are the most common in dogs, with yeast infections coming in second. Allergies can cause the area to become red and itching, making your dog want to lick and chew on them. Over time, the area may become stained from saliva, especially in lighter or white-coated dogs. Yeast infections are also common between the toes, and may cause a smelly “corn chip” smell to appear near your dog’s feet. Again, dogs will attempt to lick and chew to relieve the itch. Keeping the feet clean and dry can help relieve both allergies and infections and pet wipes or a baby wipe of all paws when your dog comes in from outdoors may also help. Keeping your dog from licking the space with either dog booties or an Elizabethan collar is also good as it will prevent secondary infection and staining of the paws and legs. If your dog is determined to keep licking and keeping the feet clean and dry do not help, then your vet can help by providing a medication to treat any infection or provide relief of allergies.

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. 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).