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.

47 Comments

47 Comments

  1. 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

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