Puppy Health

Cleft Palate in Dogs Used to Be a Death Sentence

Does your dog have a cleft palate? This palate is the upper part of your dog’s mouth between the teeth. The front part is known as the hard part and the section closest to the throat is the soft palate. Many dog owners are not aware of what a cleft palate in dogs is and how it can affect their dog, so you might find the information below helpful in identifying if your dog has this condition. In years past this was usually an automatic “death sentence” for a puppy, because not much could be done about it. It would either starve or would put put to sleep. Fortunately times have changed, and it can normally be treated with surgery. However, many people still let them die due to not knowing that help is available nowadays.

Cleft palate in dogs

If someone has ever told you your dog has a “harelip” this is actually a cleft palate. The condition is due to the palate not fusing properly during the prenatal period and is more common in certain breeds. Common causes of a cleft palate in dogs are the parents also have this condition, poor nutrition for mom during her pregnancy, the mother being exposed to drugs, chemicals and other harmful substances during pregnancy, viral infections, administering corticosteroids during the pregnancy and metabolic disorders.

Symptoms to look for if you suspect cleft palate in dogs you own include a lot of sneezing, coughing and gagging, difficulty eating, puppies will show signs of having a difficult time nursing as well as there will be unusually large amount of nasal discharges. Other symptoms to watch for are an obviously undernourished dog or puppy, the upper lip will be split, and nasal congestion. The cleft palate in dogs condition is often hereditary most vets and breeders recommend the male be neutered, and the female spayed to prevent passing the condition along.

A few of the breeds this condition is common in are Cocker Spaniels, Beagles, Brittany Spaniels, German Shepherds, Pointers, Labrador Retrievers and Pekinese.

Diagnosis of this condition is normally performed by your vet, but skilled dog breeders can also spot the defect. Your vet will normally examine the dog/puppy while he or she is under anesthesia so they can closely examine the dog’s mouth without any struggling by the canine.

The following YouTube video shows how to feed and care for a cleft palate puppy until further treatment can be given:

The options for treating cleft palate in dogs range from providing a puppy with plenty of nutrition until they are old enough for surgery, close this defect with surgery when possible, if surgery is not required and the dog is basically dealing with breathing and nasal issues your vet will use prescribed medications to help decrease and possible eliminate the issues. The primary purpose of any of the above procedures is to get the dog back to living a normal, happy and healthy life.

Are you the owner of a dog with a cleft palate? Please leave comments and tips covering how you have dealt with this issue.

51 Comments

51 Comments

  1. Leighann Parker

    Apr 9, 2017 at 9:06 pm

    I welp litters for breeders.
    One of my litters had a cleft palate pup… I've fed her via tube feeding..
    It's day to day
    She's 5 weeks old and finally 1 pound 1 oz
    Very happy with her progress.

    • Janine Williams

      Apr 19, 2017 at 12:09 am

      Hi Leighann-

      How is your cleft palate doing? She must be a very small breed dog to be only 1lb at this point.

      Good for you for making a commitment to keep her alive! I know to be a lot of work.

      Janine

  2. cecilia

    Jan 9, 2017 at 12:05 am

    my pug got now two pups with split gums how must i feed them and with what bottle

    • Janine Williams

      Apr 19, 2017 at 12:11 am

      Hi Cecilia-
      I have not looked at this post in awhile. How are the pug pups doing?
      Janine

  3. Janine

    Oct 19, 2016 at 7:23 pm

    Hi-

    I commented on this post well over a year ago and have been amazed at how many people, from around the world have reached out to me. I am happy to say, that many have been able to raise their puppies successfully with some guidance and encouragement. It is disheartening to hear how few are provided with any hope from their treating vets that their pups can live. I encountered the same response with both of my clefties but I never gave up and I kept searching until I found someone who believed I could raise my pup.

    My cleft palates have gone on to cleft palate research at UC Davis. One is a mascot for a Chapter of Operation Smile. One is being featured in a book to be released in 2017. Their lives make a difference in the lives of others. So, if you have a cleft palate, you have a very special puppy who wants to fight to survive. I am not saying it is easy, or inexpensive, but the love in return is priceless!

    As always, I am more than happy to share my tips, experience and support to any other cleft palate parents struggling out there to keep their precious one alive.

    Feel free to contact me at: [email protected]

    I will respond in a timely manner to any inquiries.

    Best of luck!
    Janine

  4. Marsha

    Oct 19, 2016 at 9:49 am

    I have a 6 week old yorkie puppy I have been tube feeding every 3 hours around the clock since he was 2 days old. He is extremely tiny and fights me when I try to tube him. But if I don’t get enough food in him, he gets low blood sugar. I’m making up a concoction of CliniCare formula mixed with some baby food rice cereal, probiotics and baby food chicken. This little guy is only 6.5 ounces now and when he is eating enough he is fat and active. He was 2.8 ounce at birth. I’m wondering how long I need to do this and if there are any other options for him. His palate is completely split down the middle.

  5. Laura Oxford

    Aug 21, 2016 at 6:29 am

    i currently have a 13 week old staffordshire bull terrier, Brooke, she has a cleft palate and harelip, she is doing extremely well, i have been told that surgery is required, but she has no breathing issues, she doesn’t gag or anything, she eats by herself and drinks well….i don’t want to put her through surgery if its not required and to be honest i’ve had vets tell me different things with her…so i’m not sure if she really needs surgery right now….or even in the future….i’m just so proud of how well shes doing and that she’s proving everyone wrong who said she wouldn’t make it 🙂

    • Janine

      Oct 19, 2016 at 6:45 pm

      Hi Laura-

      It depends on the severity of the cleft palate. Does it run the length of both hard and soft palate? The width is critical too. There are cleft palates that manage in life without surgery. Keep in mind without the surgery your puppy will always have the risk of aspiration pneumonia so you have to manage the risk accordingly. At the first sign of respiratory infection, you need to seek medical treatment as antibiotics are often necessary.

  6. Janet

    Apr 29, 2016 at 11:35 am

    I am currently tube feeding my two week old Labradoodle puppy who has a cleft palate. She has more than doubled her birth weight and and we are fortunate to have a vet who specializes in oral surgery near who is going to do the surgery for her in 3 days! It is exhausting but so worth it to see them thrive!

  7. Kate

    Feb 19, 2016 at 6:51 am

    I have a six year old dog with only half a soft palate who has never had corrective surgery. We have to be very careful not to give her any crumby food or food with wet and solid mixed, as that is too complicated for her to manage, we hold her bowl at head height to make it easier for her to swallow it into her feeding tube. We have learnt never to throw treats etc. for her as these can go straight into her lungs and she may not manage to cough it up – only once has she had pneumonia from this and we got her antibiotics quickly. She loves water, but jumping in is a no, no, as splashes go into her lungs, we take her to places where she can walk in. I keep on me homeopathic Lung mixture and Nasal and Sinus mix to nip anything in the bud quickly and these seems to work well to avoid things getting out of control. Homeopathic Aconite 30 or 200c is also good if I know she has jumped in water, or swallowed anything badly and any sign of breathing problems start, she seems to quickly recover then. The vets check her lungs when ever she goes and so far, so good, they say she is fine…… Long may she last as she is such a sweetheart.

  8. Tammy

    Oct 3, 2015 at 8:06 am

    I am currently attempting to raise a Miniature Schnauzer with a soft Cleft Palate. I noticed she wasn’t fattening up like her litter mates so I looked closer and sure enough, she wasn’t able to nurse effectively. I am able to get her to eat with a normal sized baby nipple and I am feeding her around the clock. She is also with her mother and does attempt to nurse from her as well. I’m just hoping that I will be able to find her a home if I am able to successfully raise her on the bottle. Any advice on when to introduce food is appreciated.

  9. Jill Scott

    Sep 21, 2015 at 8:16 am

    I have raised 3 cleft palette Whippets, where both hard and soft palettes were totally open. It was not easy, as sleep deprivaton makes you like a moron. The first 2 were 25 and 22 years ago and both after successful surgery lived a full and joyful life. The latest I took to the vet to euthanise, but couldn’t do it and came home with her and a carton of formula. She is now 11 months old and has gone to new home. – I miss her terribly. Anybody who wants advice is welcome to contact me.

    • Meghan

      Jan 15, 2016 at 7:36 pm

      Did you have trouble with the puppy aspirating at all? Is there a trick to feeding? I’m new to this and have a yorkie that was born with a noticable hairlip possible cleft palette. He’s 4 days old today.

      • Alisha

        Feb 16, 2016 at 7:01 pm

        How did you go with your Yorkie ?

        Im also trying to feed a boxer puppy with cleft palette and cleft lip – two weeks old today. He coughs and splutters a bit but otherwise feeds very well. Im keen to know what is the next stage fro him – I have taken him to several Vets and all dont want to know about him . . . . seems no one is willing to even look at him.

        • Cindy

          Feb 24, 2016 at 7:59 pm

          i have an aussie pup that i bottled fed till she was 6 wks old, used a long nipple. i also had her on amoxi drops for the first two weeks then on the 3rd week we put her on clavamox as she had a little congestion on her upper lobes. she did fine but i took her off of milk at 3 wks because of congestion and put her on strained baby meat watered down just a bit so it would go through a nipple and also put her on liquid vitimins. she is now on raw diet and doing great. she is 13 wks.

          • Renee

            Apr 21, 2016 at 10:56 pm

            I want to wean my two “lefties” to a raw diet, as that’s what I feed my dogs. what raw foods do you give? is ground meat okay? or do you feed chunks of meat? wondering how they will manage bones …

    • Tara

      Feb 25, 2016 at 11:10 am

      Hi Jill,
      Did your whippets have any issues such as coughing and gagging when they got older? We have a 12 year old whippet. He had his cleft palate repaired when he was just a very small puppy.
      In the last couple of months, he has started coughing and gagging. He’s gone to the vet and had blood tests and X-rays done…nothing odd is showing up in the results to explain it. The idea popped in my head yesterday that maybe it could have something to do with his cleft palate. Just wondering if you had any similar experience with your whippets. Thank you.

    • Christina

      Oct 18, 2016 at 2:41 am

      Please give me any advise that can help me i have a 2day old puppy who has a cleft palate down its throat vet told me to feed it on the left side with a syringe it sarts feeding i stop to take a break and it starts caughing lk if it cant breath im so scared…. am i doing it wrong??

    • Karyn

      Apr 12, 2017 at 2:06 pm

      Hi Jill. As I write this my whippet 6 month old is being operated on for a cleft palette (soft and hard palate). I had a litter of 6 pups but intentionally kept the pup with the cleft palette because I wanted to be sure he got the medical treatment he needed. My pup was stomach fed until he no longer nursed and then he was put on pup food like all the other pups. Today he is 27 pounds and doing well without surgery; however he is being operated on as we speak because my vet suggested this be done and because it will benefit him in the future. I am writing to ask you if you have any knowledge or experience with whippet pups following cleft palette surgery? Would love your input.

  10. Janine

    Jul 5, 2015 at 11:54 pm

    Hi-

    I have successfully raised two cleft palate French Bulldogs. My second was also born with a ventricular septal defect in his heart and concerns that his blood would not clot, so he had a K-9 blood donor in the wings before he underwent surgery. These pups can survive but I highly suggest the experience of an oral surgeon. Do not attempt surgical repair at the usual vet hospital.

    For anyone facing the challenge of raising a cleftie, contact me directly. I am very experienced in both raising and how best to treat.

    Janine
    [email protected]

  11. Vanessa

    Apr 5, 2015 at 10:24 pm

    What happens if you have a puppy that was born 2 days ago and can’t eat but his stomach expands?

  12. Betsy

    Mar 11, 2015 at 11:41 pm

    I had a Chihuahua born with a soft palate and cleft lip, we named him Elvis. I noticed it the day he was born but he was sucking well at the time. Then he quit and I bottle fed him with a mixture of Goats milk, 1 egg and a little Karo syrup. He is now over a year old and doing wonderful. Never give up on them, they need all the help they can get, if you can give it to them.

    • Laura

      Mar 17, 2015 at 11:21 am

      We also have an Elvis, but a Boxer x SBT.

  13. Debbie Painting

    Feb 26, 2015 at 10:50 pm

    we had a dog who had a puppy and she had a cleft palated and we almost lost her I feed her and my six mouth puppy help me take care of her when milk come out of her nose he would lick it off he was a great help my molly is a year old on March 8 of this year she is heath and happy puppy she plays with her toys she is the love of our life I would do it over again we had her fixed so she couldn’t have puppies and I have to thank god for my little baby

    • christie

      Mar 1, 2015 at 9:06 am

      did your puppy have to have surgery?

  14. Tom

    Nov 1, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    We have a one-year cleft lab puppy. He’s doing great, but has the nastiest breath I’ve every smelled. He has no infection and we brush his teeth weekly. He’s on a solid food diet. Even when more frequent brushing, his breath still stinks awful. PLEASE, we need help. It’s hard having him in the house, his breath is so stinky!

  15. Jo day

    Aug 5, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    Hello I have a12week chihuahua with a cleft pallet I am so worried for her, she seems fine in herself eating well what should I look out for so frighten I am going to loss her

  16. Mary

    Jun 25, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    Hello,Am babysitting my sisters 4 yr old boxer whose pregnant with her first litter.My sister wasn’t to sure about when the puppies would be born.To our surprise the next morning the boxer gave birth to 4 beautiful pups.The second born pup was a girl with cleft lip & palate.Right away we noticed that the pup was having trouble staying latched to nurse.We knew from then on that the pups survival depended on being tube feed.I’ve been familiar with the process but never had to perform a tube feeding til now.My family & I educated ourselves immediately as much as possible through Google & YouTube.We reached out to local vets for the proper equipment to tube feed this helpless baby & the vets didn’t carry the supplies.We reached out to a Medical supply company who supplied us with the smallest oxygen tube.We attached the tube to the tip of a 10ml syringe with the proper length to successfully feed this starving pup.It’s the 4th day now and she’s still hanging on to life.She wants to suckel so bad,it’s sad to see her struggle when we put her with her mom. The mom licks & cares for her baby as much as possible. The baby seeks warmth & comfort. Am still trying to reach out to other vets in the surrounding towns for the proper feeding tube. That will make it less heart breaking when trying our best to feed this poor,beautiful,unfortunate pup.If anyone had any advise or suggestions,we appreciate any help we can get from those who have or are raising a pup with cleft lip & palate.Thank you in advance & for all your encouraging & hopeful stories.

    Sincerely,
    With puppy love,
    Baby Boo-Boo & Auntie Mary

    • Candace

      Aug 18, 2014 at 8:09 am

      There are enough dogs in this world. Boxers are being killed in our shelters. Why is your sister letting her dog have puppies, and you supporting it? Please visit the shelters and see that there are not enough homes for dogs, and so many die because people keep letting their dogs have puppies. Your sister is contributing to the death of dogs by taking homes that shelter dogs could otherwise go in. Very sad.

      • Laura

        Sep 19, 2014 at 9:39 pm

        You are judging others. You have no right. Not everyone wants a dog from a shelter. You cant blame others for what many careless dog owners do with their dogs.

    • Angela

      Oct 16, 2014 at 5:03 pm

      The vets in my area would not even entertain me when I asked how to help my beautiful little cocker spaniel. They just wanted to euthanise her. She is six days old now. Mum cares for her dearly and it’s as though her siblings try their best to keep her as warm as possible. I’m really feeling the fact she may not make it. She is bottle feeding from a actual baby teat and bottle. This is helping as the teat is actually covering the cleft as its straight through the middle of her palate, plus it isn’t that wide. She tends to be able to suckle with her throat rather than her mouth which also reduces the amount she loses down her front. Elsa is soooo strong too, she is a fighter! We have a little routine where she stands up with her head back. She is in control rather than trying to restrain her.i do think more people aware of the fact cleft puppies can live a happy healthy life once helped through the first stages of their life. I love this pup and I’m going to do everything in my power to keep her healthy and strong, the bond is already there and I can’t imagine how good it will be once she is an adult.

  17. Dhzonnie Grailford

    May 14, 2014 at 3:43 am

    Hi everyome as of yesterday my beautiful puppys were born but one a beautiful pittbull female has cleft lip i want to help.but i have no money so i will have to have her put down

    • Carla Fletcher

      May 24, 2014 at 9:38 pm

      I’m sorry, are you sure she has to be put down, I’d try some tricks out first. I’m not getting mine surgery unless he has to have it, I just rescued an 8 week old pit bull we named stitch because my little girl thought he was like Stitch from lilo and Stitch he was forgotten and left behind, he never ever went through that first night puppy anxiety, he’s glad to be the one getting all the attention I’d say poor guy’s the runt with a cleft, now he will neither be forgotten or left behind again.

  18. Alicia Kennemore

    Jan 25, 2014 at 8:26 pm

    I have a 2 yr old pitbull Venus that I tube feed every 2 hours when she was born and she is considerably smaller at 30 lbs but functions just fine she also has one eye that never opened and is partially blind in the othe eye . She now eats normally ,but I also noticed now that she is getting older that her top palate that holds her front teeth has opened up more on both sides and her bulb that holds the teeth shifts now but other than that we have had no problems . I just wonder what her quality of life she has – we don’t want to lose her but my vet sad if it’s not broke don’t fix it

  19. Diane Werntz

    Jan 22, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    sorry for typos my computer screen kept skipping on me.

  20. Diane Werntz

    Jan 22, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    I have shih tzus mother 2 and father soon to be 4. Both are AKC and I have 4 generation history with DNA ( except granddaddy on Dam side ) I do not know the reason why no DNA and I could not contact the actual breeder.

    My dogs are fine and no cleft palate On January 20th 2014, my dam gave birth to 6 puppies. We were only expecting 4. she weighs 11 lbs. I now have a puppy now 2 days old, blowing bubbles, nose full of milk and am waiting for vet to call me back to take him in. My dam is very upset when I use the aspirator on the puppy and I am concerned if I take puppy without her she may get so upset and hurt the other puppies ( not intentional She is smaller than other puppies and not as aggressive on teats. I hate the sound H makes and very scared. I had another shih tzu with very small nares and ended up very sick, no cleft palate. Should I take mom or not, should I be worried if she stays with other puppies? Any other things that may cause puppies to blow bubbles and have mile out of nose and spit up? I was not made aware of any history of cleft palate.

    My first litter and dams first litter.

    Thank You
    Diane

  21. Judy McDonald

    Dec 3, 2013 at 9:02 pm

    Have been breeding for 8 years out of Oklahoma. Call me or email for details!

  22. Judy McDonald

    Dec 3, 2013 at 9:00 pm

    Months call (405) 223-2420 or (405) 310-4766 for details or email me. Tiny little male a real baby doll!

  23. Yvonne

    Sep 26, 2013 at 2:54 am

    I was born on the 19th of May 2013. Nr five of six Pure Bred “Weir-Hair” Jack Russells) On the 20th of May 2013, I was diagnosed with Cleft-Palette. When taken to the vet, my (foster-mommy at that stage) was told that there is only one solution: euthenation. But for my mommy that was not an option. She decided to raise me / or at least try to safe me. I was tube-fed for the first six weeks of my life, my only luxury was to suck my mommy’s little finger. I had my first teat-bottle at six weeks of age, (and still do have that yummy bottle till today).
    I had a couple of set-backs but through hard work and dedication I pulled through. My lungs and little nose are clear. Mommy is brushing my palette every night, as my food and “toys” seems to stuck in my palette. I am eating and drinking normal as every other dog, and are just as energetic and playful although mommy says I am a bundle of energy and causes grey hair. I would be needed an operation soon, to fix my palette and a lower hernia. Therefore I am pledging to all animal-lovers out there, to please assist my mommy to gain the finances so that the operation could be made possible. It is quite an expensive procedure and mommy can’t afford to carry the costs. Please could each family / neighbour / relative / employer / es consider depositing a small amount into my account, (because I started small but now I am a BIG BOY)…

  24. Jodie

    Sep 17, 2013 at 9:58 am

    My girl had pups on Sunday and the last one we found out she had a cleft. Her pallets fine the vet thinks but she can’t feed off her mum because she can’t suck. Her nose and cheeks aren’t connected and no top lip. My vet also said about letting her go to sleep but this little lady is a fighter and I’m guna fight with her for as long as she needs me. My dog really trusts me and is nudging her towards me now too when she wants feeding, and whilst I’m holding her with the bottle betsy is cleaning her and licking to stimulate digestion and toilet. We’re working as a team. Not thinking of the future too much just concentrating on now but she’ll stay with me unless I found a home that would love her the same. We’re on 1 1/2 hour gaps between meals as that’s how frequent she’s crying for food and I just managed 15ml. She’s amazing, just like her mum

  25. Angela

    Sep 14, 2013 at 4:14 am

    Hi, I have a 4 year old female Boxer named Bunny with a partial cleft pallet and full cleft lip. I have had her since the day she was born and she has thrived. She was unable to feed with mom so I bottler fed around the clock until she was three weeks old. She then started eating mushy dog food with puppy formula. Luckily she never aspirated. She is a bit smaller than her siblings (53lb.) but is strong, agile, and freaky smart. I take her to work and to visit senior citizens and like all boxers she is clown. I did not have her cleft fixed when she was smaller because she has been able to eat, drink, and chew with out problems. However, as she is getting older, the exposed teeth are decaying at a very fast rate. I am looking into getting a consultation and any recommendations, advise, and possible donations for her surgery if needed. If anyone can help, Bunny and I would greatly appreciate it very much.

  26. ELAINE

    Sep 6, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    I HAD ADOPTED A ENGLISH BULLDOG 8 WEEKS OLD AND HE HAS A CLIFE PALATE AND I JUST LOVE THIS LITTLE DOG HE IS WHAT I CALL A SPECICAL NEEDS DOG WE JUST FEED HIM DRY DOG FOOD HE IS 11 WEEKS NOW HIS NAME IS BAXTER AND AS LONG AS HE IS EATING WELL I WILL NOT REPAIR IT DUE TO THE MONEY THEY SAY IT WILL BE 2000.00
    THANK YOU FOR YOUR STORY

  27. Reina

    Aug 31, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    I have a 4 week old Chihuahua/ Pomeranian crossed puppy. I have been taking care of all 4 puppies, however one was born with cleft-palate. I began bottle feeding him up until three weeks when he- on his own began eating soft food. He also experiments now with drinking water. They all still drink from the mother rarely, him having difficulties, but she doesn’t have much milk left to give. I am worried about how his condition will affect his future. His front lip is split through, and his left nostril is open and exposed to the rest of his mouth. I will be keeping him, and have grown very attached to him. I’ve named him Cliffard, ironically. I would love to know as much as I can, to insure he has a great life. Any advice from other’s who have dealt with this situation would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

  28. Ashleigh

    Aug 25, 2013 at 1:38 am

    My Rosie the Riveter (boston terrier) was born with a soft cleft, only on the inside. I got her at 4 weeks from the breeder, she was going on vacation and had no one to care for her while she was gone. She was bottle fed until about 8 plus weeks. She just wouldn’t eat hard food. Luckily I found Nutrical, I believe it saved her from starving. My vet, whom I love, told me he would do the surgery for me. Even said people who don’t do it regret it later on. He is one of the top English Bulldog vets in the Midwest. But, I had done my research, and decided against it. I’m so glad I went with my gut. Rosie is a little over a year, and her cleft is almost completely closed. So she can’t eat soft foods… fine with me, I don’t feed any of my animals soft food anyway. Rosie is on you tube… contact me if you have any questions or concerns about your soft cleft puppy. Keywords Rosie the Boston Terrier, soft cleft palate puppy.

    • Diane

      Dec 13, 2013 at 7:49 pm

      Please please contact me. I have 2 cleft babies and could so use your advice!

      • B

        Jan 2, 2014 at 9:06 pm

        Diane,
        Our dog had 12 pups–one with a cleft. I hand fed him and now he is 9 weeks old and doing pretty good. He has gained so much weight and looks great now. Twice so far, however, he has gotten ahold of something that has gotten stuck in his cleft and caused him to wheeze. So, I have said many prayers and then used a suction bulb (for infant humans) to get the debris out. Does anyone else have a better way to get debris out of the cleft? I found much useful info here http://hennwood.tripod.com/cleft_pup_info.htm

  29. Nitza

    May 30, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    Hello. I have a bulldog that was born with a cleft palate. The vet wanted to put him down but we refuse to do that. He is 7 months now and doing great. He did stay smaller than the other puppies. He is our favorite. Have to be careful with his food intake but other than that he is living a normal bulldog life. Love our bulldogs!

  30. E. Bessey

    Apr 5, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    I have raised my dog from 2 days old. He and 2 other siblings were born with secondary cleft palates, meaning only the inside of the mouth was effected. From the outside you’d know nothing is wrong. I work at a vet and the breeder surrendered the 3 puppies to myself and 2 coworkers. We had to bottle feed them every 2 hours for the 1st 2 weeks or so. We weren’t really able to transition to hard food until much closer to 8 weeks. Why you might ask? We weren’t able to soften the hard food to mush like most breeders do for weaning. The mush like consistency would enter the hole in the roof of their mouth and cause infections. All dogs are now 10 months old and we didn’t do surgery on any of them. The cleft palate has closed on its own some, it was open from just behind the front teeth all the way down to the throat. All the dogs thrive just fine, eating doesn’t effect them. The most important thing is that they not eat things with canned food consistency. No peanut butter, yogurt, cottage cheese like things. Once in a while won’t create an immediate infection but if fed canned food or soft consistency regularly it will likely develop one. Drinking water isn’t an issue. Will tender care those first few months they can live just fine without surgery!

  31. Janet

    Feb 16, 2013 at 2:43 am

    I adopted my Luci from a Humane Soc. shelter… She was 2 1/2 yrs old. She has a cleft lip, missing alot of upper teeth on the cleft side. Her cleft mouth leads to a twisted nose, 1 nostril leads into her mouth which has a cleft palate. She eats and plays Aok!~ She requires alot of water tho, I think because she does breath through her mouth with 1 nostril… I think she’s beautiful… she now is in her forever home!~

  32. Carolyn

    Feb 15, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    My daughter-in-law’s Lab had 7 puppies, one with cleft. The vet immediately euthanized the dog. So sad because she was a beauty. I wish I had seen this before the puppies were born, so I could have alerted her to the possible outcome.

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