Andrea, I can't even begin to find the words to express how sad I feel for you. It sounds as though it she was gone quickly and without struggle or pain. I know that doesn't make it easier on those she left behind but at least her passing was swift. Huge hugs to you and your family.
Periodontal disease is a tough one to get on top of once it takes hold (in both humans and dogs) because the bacteria gets down in the pockets and it is very difficult to keep clean. People have better luck because they have the ability to floss daily, but that is very difficult with a dog – and believe me, I've tried. Periodontal disease is not the same as an auto-immune disease that dogs can get (lest I be accused of getting them confused).
I believe the reason our furry companions, and especially the dry-mouth (non-slobbering types) often get it is because of a couple things in addition to not being able to floss. 1. They don't slobber so their mouths really don't get a good natural rinse, and 2. they are fed an unnatural diet. In the wild they would be crunching up bones which acts like a natural toothbrush/floss, and they wouldn't be eating cereal grains which are carbs on steroids turning to sugar once it hits the saliva.
There are kibbles out there that do not contain grains which may help by keeping the sugars at bay in the mouth. Evo is one, Instinct is another. Feeding raw is a great alternative. I am also a big fan of the PetzLife product and think it works wonders to keep plaque at bay on the teeth, but not sure how well it works with the plague and bacteria already under the gumline. My rat terrier does not have periodontal disease. I feed him Evo and brush his teeth daily (with a three-sided toothbrush) with Petzlife and he has the teeth of a two year old which isn't bad considering he's almost 11. If his gut could handle it I'd feed him raw, but that has not bode well with him unfortunately.
FWIW, in a past life I worked as a chairside assistant for a dentist so I do know a bit about teeth and periodontal disease. I came away from that experience realizing that if I were on a deserted island I'd rather have an endless supply of dental floss vs. a toothbrush. I would be more likely to keep my teeth with the first rather that the latter. Now if we could just figure out how to floss a dog's teeth.
Thank you for the kind words and the visit to his page. All Basenjis are so photogenic and Dan was no exception. I probably shot in excess of 5000 photos of him and only a handful turned out because he absolutely hated to have his photo taken. He could hear the camera turn on and would either put his ears in helicopter mode or simply turn his head around like Linda Blair in the exorcist. I figured out how to turn the sound off on my camera but he'd still hear the lens extend and that would be it. At least I did get a couple of good'ins.
Dan was euthanized in October and it took nearly six weeks to get his ashes back. By that time the ground was too frozen so we had to wait until the spring to bury him. In the end it was therapeudic for me to have him close to my computer through the winter. It was time to give him back to the earth.
My husband, rat terrier Jack, and I buried Dan's ashes under the apple tree today. It is a most beautiful sunny day and the apple tree is ready to leaf out any moment. This was the only home Dan ever knew and there is a no more fitting place for our beloved red and white boy to be.
Always in our hearts ~ rest in peace sweet Dan.
It's interesting that your vet said 'dementia'. When Jessie was at the end of her life (fanconi) I thought she had a brain tumor also because of the way she acted. Looking back, and thinking about what your vet said I believe now she was suffering from dementia. There were times I thought she was seeing ghosts because she'd stare up at the ceiling with such purpose. Very weird. I still miss that little butt like no ones business. Isis will forever be in your heart.