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Panting at night on steroids.

Species: Dog
Breed: labrador
Age: 11-15 years
my 12 year old black lab is on steroids for an auto immune disease and the medicine seems to be doing okay, he also has a mass next to his spleen. W have xrays but are unwilling to put him through surgery. He eats, poops and walks but he pants heavily at about 9 pm until the morning. If i could tell he were in pain during the day I would probably put him down but i am reluctant as he does all the right stuff during the day.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Cases like this are often difficult ones to make decisions on.

It's really difficult to tell whether the mass next to the spleen is something to worry about. You usually can't differentiate between cancerous and benign for spleen masses by using an ultrasound. And, unlike some tumors, putting a small needle into the mass to get a diagnosis is not always safe for spleen tumors. So, without doing surgery to remove the mass you likely won't know whether it's an issue. Still, surgery is expensive, has no guarantees and is a stress on your dog's body. So, it sounds like we'll need to be content with just monitoring this for now.

There are several possible reasons for your dog to be panting at night. Panting can be a sign of pain. Or, it could be a sign of some type of respiratory issue. It can even be due to anxiety. I have also seen some dogs on steroids that can have extra panting as well.

Ideally it would be best to have chest xrays done to determine if there is an obvious reason for the panting. If the xrays show something like obvious lung cancer then this can help with decision making.

You could talk to your vet about doing a trial of pain medication at night times. The problem is that many pain medications are not safe to use while the dog is on steroids. Your vet may be willing to do a trial of something like Tramadol though. If you do this and you find that the panting gets better then a pain issue is likely.

If this doesn't work, you could also try asking your vet about a trial of anti-anxiety medication. When I mention this, many people are reluctant because they say that their dogs are not stressed, but I have often seen it make a difference.

I hope that helps. Let me know if you have more questions.

Dr. Marie


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.