I just had Remy in to the vet this afternoon to discuss arthritis and long-term pain management. Too bad it isn't arthritis; my little Remy-girl appears to have fairly severe hip dysplaysia.
I probably should have had her examined many years ago...she has always had a slightly stiff-legged walk, but she has always been so healthy and happy, that it didn't really appear to be an issue. Recently, though, any extended exercise (as in, "around the block" extended) has wiped her out afterward. She's been "talking" more when she lays down, and we can definitely see a struggle when she gets up from a sitting or lying position.
For now, we're going to try pain-management for the next month. If that works, we'll probably just stay with that; she's around 8-9, and finances aside, I really would hate to put her through a surgery. The best surgical option is the total hip replacement, but we'd be looking at about $3500 per hip. After that, the next best option appears to be femoral head excision, but they usually recommend that for smaller dogs. Once we get her weight down a little (all of the training classes and treats have added pounds to her), she will be only slightly over the general recommended maximum weight for that, so it may be a viable option (we didn't discuss $ for anything else).
She's on 50mg of Deramaxx per day, which is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain killer in the same family as Rimadyl. The problems associated with NSAIDs, though, can be loss of liver functions, so we will need to keep a close eye on that. We've also started her on a regimine of glucosamine/chondroitin, but it usually takes around 6 weeks to get into the system. While I can't be 100% certain, I do think I've seen a difference even since I gave her the medication this afternoon.
I'm including a link to a fairly good article I found this evening that discussed hip dysplaysia and options in more detail. The only REAL experience I've had was with Baron when I was much younger, and he was much younger. I've never really had to treat an older dog before, so I'm sure I'll be doing a lot more research in the next few days/weeks/years.