Experienced and professional animal trainer provide their insights in answering this question :
A. Most skin tags and moles are pretty harmless but keep an eye on it for any significant changes such as shape, if it grows, or texture seems to change. In that case, only a vet can test to find out if it is benign or malignant.

How to Identify Common Pet Problems ?

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

Sebaceous Adenoma – Sebaceous adenomas are benign growths of the oil producing glands in the skin. They are small (usually <1cm), white to pink in color, have irregular borders, and sometimes secrete a greasy white material.
Melanoma occurs more frequently in dogs with dark pigmented skin. Cutaneous melanoma tumors are usually solitary and appear as small brown/black masses. They can also appear as large, flat, or wrinkled tumors.
Histiocytomas look scary but they are not dangerous. Raised, red, and sometimes ulcerated, these benign growths are not usually painful or itchy for dogs. Surgical treatment is only recommended if the bump grows large enough to bother the dog or the owner.
Histiocytomas in dogs typically have no symptoms other than the sudden eruption of a domed pink growth on the skin. These growths are neither painful nor itchy in most cases, although both symptoms are possible. In rare cases, nearby lymph nodes can become swollen.
Certain breeds, for example Miniature and Standard Schnauzers and Scottish Terriers, are at an increased risk, and males appear to be affected more than females. Malignant melanomas look like raised lumps, often ulcerated, and can also look like gray or pink lumps in the mouth.
Hemangiomas are benign tumors that occur in adult dogs and closely resemble blood vessels. You usually see them on a dog`s legs and trunk. They may be single growths or multiple, compressible, reddish-black circular lumps that can resemble a blood blister. Some may become large and even ulcerate.
The most common symptom of a histiocytoma is a small, single round lump that`s typically less than half an inch in diameter. It`s usually pink-red, raised, and hairless, like a red mole on a dog. The most common place for these lumps is the face and ears, although they can be anywhere.
Skin tags protrude more from the skin and are usually connected by a slender stalk. Either way, both these lesions are benign. Your dog may get pink, white, gray, or black moles. They are typically small, less than a quarter inch in diameter.
Canine hot spots are red, inflamed skin lesions also known as pyotraumatic dermatitis or acute moist dermatitis. These names accurately describe the inflammatory skin lesions exacerbated by scratching that appear quickly, ooze, and may contain pus.
Watch for these signs: Firm, raised wart-like blemishes (squamous cell carcinomas) Rubber-like, inflamed sores (mast cell tumors) Strange-colored lumps or bumps on the lips, mouth, pads of feet, toenail beds (melanomas)
Histiocytomas are raised, hairless masses on the skin surface. They are usually seen on the face, neck, ears and limbs. They often look a little bit like buttons although some can be quite red and look more like a strawberry. They usually don`t get any bigger than 2.5cm in size.
Mast cell tumors are one of the most common skin cancers seen in dogs. These tumors tend to grow quickly and can be red and itchy, and are often seen in short-faced dogs such as pugs, french bulldogs, and boxers. Shar-Peis are known to be susceptible to an aggressive form of mast cell tumors.
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.
They will also become much darker than the surrounding skin due to the amount of melanin that will end up being concentrated in just one area. However, while these growths are typically benign, they can sometimes result in a tumor developing, putting the dog at risk of cancer spreading into other parts of the body.
Dogs that develop melanoma tend to be older and the cause of melanoma is unknown in dogs. Most melanomas in the mouth or skin will present as dark, raised masses. Some melanomas may appear as a pinkish color (amelanotic melanomas).
What does a cancerous lesion look like on a dog? Veterinarians advise the following signs. One may feel firm, raised wart-like blemishes that are squamous cell carcinoma. One may see rubber-like, inflamed sores that are mast cell tumors.
Cherry angiomas aren`t dangerous or harmful. They`re benign growths that can easily be confused with melanoma and moles. Although it can be scary to see a new growth on your skin, cherry angiomas aren`t a sign of cancer.
While cherry angiomas are typically benign, any changes in the way a red mole looks can potentially be a sign of skin cancer. A doctor, like a dermatologist, can evaluate skin growths and lesions to rule out more serious conditions.
Your dog can develop bumps from infection or allergies that are benign or harmless. But he can also develop permanent, abnormal growths of skin cells or tumors. In fact, according to Merck Manuals, tumors affecting the skin or the tissue just under the skin are the most commonly seen tumors in dogs.
Warts on dogs often look like a small head of cauliflower, but other, rarer types do exist, including an inverted papilloma (usually a firm lump with a dot in the middle) and dark, scaly plaques of skin that have an irregular surface.
Dog moles, or cutaneous melanocytes, are benign skin growths typically found in German Shepherds.
A histiocytoma is a tumor affecting your soft tissues, and in some instances, bone. There are several types of histiocytomas. Some are harmless and some are cancerous.
Symptoms of Wart Virus in Dogs

Warts are most commonly seen in the mouth, nose or eyes, but skin warts can show up around the footpads, legs or groin area. They start as a rough patch of pink-to-white skin, and as they develop they may become darker and lumpy, resembling cauliflower.

What Do Hot Spots Look Like on a Dog? Hotspots look like painful scrapes or patches of raw skin. They are typically raised, red, and often hairless. They can ooze, bleed, or contain pus.

Relevant Questions and Answers :

the most relevant questions and answers related to your specific issue

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. 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. 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. How do I desensitize my dog to squirrels and stray cats in the neighborhood?
ANSWER : A. It depends on the goal that you have in mind. I am going to assume that you would prefer that your dog not chase squirrels or stray cats in the yard/street. In this case, your options include: (1) training your dog on a “Leave it ” cue using positive reinforcement methods, (2) training your dog not to pull on its leash when it sees a squirrel/stray cat, and (3) training your dog to perform a more desirable behavior when it sees a squirrel/cat.
Training your dog on a cued “leave it” command is useful because it will give you the ability to tell your dog to stay away from any number of undesirable objects on your command. Training your dog to perform a more desireable behavior when it sees a squirrel or cat will substitute a behavior you find acceptable (sitting, laying down, coming to the door, etc.) with a behavior you dislike. Your dog can still react, just in a positive way. If your dog pulls on the leash every time you see a squirrel/cat, training not to pull will make your walk safer and more pleasant.
The ideal training method to use with dogs, or any animal for that matter, is positive reinforcement training, particularly a method called “clicker- training.” The basic concept of positive reinforcement training is to pair a reward (reinforcement) with a behavior you want to increase in frequency. In other words, when your dog performs the behavior you desire, it receives an award, which reinforces the desired behavior so you get more of that behavior. There are many excellent books in stores or on-line that describe positive reinforcement training in detail and many give step-by-step instructions for training common commands like “leave it”. Look for books that specifically mention positive reinforcement training or clicker-training. You can also take dog training classes to learn the techniques, find a mentor who already uses clicker-training, or request a consult from one of the pet experts on this site to guide you.

Q. What can I do to stop my dog from barking at people and front doors?
ANSWER : A. Ignore your dog’s barking for as long as it takes him to stop. This means don’t give him any attention at all while he’s barking. Your attention only rewards him for being noisy. Don’t talk to him, don’t touch him, and don’t even look at him. When he finally quiets down, 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. If he barks for an hour and you finally get so frustrated that you yell at him to be quiet, the next time he’ll probably bark for an hour and a half. Dogs learns that if they bark long enough you’ll give them attention.

Teach your dog the ‘quiet’ command. It may sound nonsensical, but 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.

When your dog starts barking, ask him to do something that’s incompatible with barking. Teach your dog to react to barking stimuli with something that inhibits him from barking, such as lying down in his bed.

Make sure your dog is getting sufficient physical and mental exercise every day. A tired dog is a good 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 fetch and playing with interactive toys.

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. 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. My Beagle listens to me, but cries & whines when I’m gone & doesn’t listen to my parents. I adopted him just a couple days ago. Any tips for my folks?
ANSWER : A. I really highly doubt that your Beagle listens to you and has formed a connection with you in just a couple of days. It takes months to build up any kind of serious connection with your dog. You need to work on communication with your dog through training them to understand different cues. For instance the Leave-It cue: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1TS5nA7z5Q

You have to work on bonding with your dog through mental stimulation. Training is very important. Luring each new behavior from scratch, and training using treats is how you form a strong bond with your new dog. No scolding is ever necessary… work on being calm, and positive, all the time.

If your dog is crying/whining when you leave, this may be separation anxiety. You’re going to have to separation train this dog from scratch. This dog needs to learn that separation can be a good thing! Tell your “folks” to NOT scold the dog when he is crying/whining after you leave, because that will make your dog MORE anxious when you leave next time. Your dog will be dwelling on the negative if your parents fuel your dogs negative feelings towards you leaving. FUN things should happen when you leave. Your parents should pull out the treats and start doing some basic obedience training with your dog. Your parents should stuff a Kong filled with awesome treats (peanut butter) and give it to him so he feels happy when you leave.

I have some excellent separation anxiety exercises you can work on. If you’d like, you can purchase a consultation with me, and I will go over how to separation train from scratch. It will make your dog comfortable being alone, guaranteed.

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