Chronic joint pain is more common in dogs than owners often realize. If your dog no longer seems interested in jumping on the couch, or if they're simply not as active as they used to be, this could be because they are suffering from chronic joint pain. Sometimes it is due to arthritis, and other times it is due to an old injury that still nags them. In either case, there are a few services that vets offer to help with the pain.
Just like a human might take an NSAID like naproxen for joint pain relief, there are NSAIDs for dogs. They are typically only available by prescription. The most common one is called firocoxib, and this will likely be the first one your vet recommends trying, although there are others they can prescribe if your dog does not respond well to the firocoxib.
NSAID medications are particularly effective at managing chronic joint pain in dogs because they not only address the pain directly but also relieve inflammation. Arthritis, in particular, is characterized by inflammation, and doing away with the inflammation will reduce pressure on the nerves, which will help reduce the pain even further.
If NSAIDs alone do not seem to bring your dog's joint pain under control, then your vet may also prescribe a type of medication called a neuromodulator. Gabapentin is the most common of these drugs prescribed to dogs. It works by directly relieving nerve pain, so it can be very helpful for dogs where an old tendon or ligament injury is aggravating the nerves near a joint.
Gabapentin and other neuromodulators are generally quite safe, but they do make some dogs sleepy. As such, vets usually recommend giving the medication in the evening so that its sedative effects have been toned down a bit by morning.
Finally, your vet can work with you to design a diet that is better for your dog's joints. If your dog is overweight, they will likely recommend a reduced-calorie diet to encourage weight loss. (Excess weight makes joint pain worse.) They may also recommend a food that is high in omega-3 fatty acids, as these tend to help lubricate the joints. Some pet food companies make foods specifically for dogs with joint pain; they often must be prescribed by your vet.
If you suspect your dog may be dealing with ongoing joint pain, do not hesitate to bring it up to the vet. This is a rather common issue and one that's easily addressed with the treatments above. Contact an animal hospital like Animal House Veterinary Hospital to learn more.