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Good Morning and welcome! I am Dr. Loretta, a licensed veterinarian and I am happy to answer your question.
I am so sorry that it has taken so long to answer your question.
This panting and whining along with limping is probably due to an unstable disc in sweet Niko's back or neck. This can cause discomfort that causes this panting which is a way of manifesting pain. Doberman's can be prone to this condition because of their size and conformation and since you were away, the stress of this may have caused Niko to over do his exercise or jump on something that will cause this instability.
Since Niko does not have any digestive issues, this is the most likely cause for his pain. Since this is deep within the vertebrae, he will not show pain when you touch or palpate these areas. This can happen when Niko jumps up or down on something or just moves the wrong way. The best thing you can do for now as long as Niko is eating, is to give him aspirin at 5 mg per pound every 12 hrs. This will decrease the inflammation that is causing his pain and start to stabilize this disc. Do not allow him to jump on or off anything or even climb stairs or play with your son to allow this disc to stabilize. It is best to have your vet examine him to be sure that this is the case and that this treatment is appropriate.Does that make sense to you?
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