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Thank you for your question. My name is***** I have been a small animal veterinarian for 13 years. The simple answer to your question is that nothing that happened during surgery would cause this panting. The surgery is no performed anywhere near the nose or lungs so the only thing that could have happened in that area would have been a complication with intubation. Complications with intubation are rare and would result in lots of breathing problems, not just the panting you are describing.
However, I do think that there is something wrong. It is not normal to pant like that. Possible causes for panting do include pain and metabolic problems... like thyroid unbalance. It can also be pain related, or heart related. Working up and finding a cause for panting is a challenge. You may have to ask for a referral to an internist, but your veterinarian can begin with some bloodwork... including thyroid testing and X-rays. Just curious... dose she pant when she naps during the day? Restlessness at night can indicate senility, but 6 years old is young to be senile!