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Canine Cleft Palate Treatment Stoke On Trent

Veterinary Cleft Palate Treatment for Dogs Near Stoke On Trent

What is a canine Cleft Palate/Hair Lip?

A cleft palate is a fairly common condition in dogs (up to 25% incidence). It is caused due to a failure of the roof of the mouth to close during development in the womb. This results in a hole between the mouth and the nasal cavity.

The defect can occur in the lip (primary cleft palate) or along the roof of the mouth (secondary cleft palate). Inside the mouth, the cleft can extend along the bony portion (hard palate), the soft palate at the back of the mouth, or both.

Cleft palate is generally regarded as an inherited condition. As such, purebred puppies, especially those with short noses (Brachycephalic breeds) such as Bulldogs, Boston terriers, and Pekingese are more commonly affected than mixed breeds. On occasion, nutritional deficiencies, viruses, and toxins affecting the mother during pregnancy may increase the risk of puppies being born with cleft palates.

Cleft Palate in Puppies Treatment Stoke On Trent

Cleft Palate in Dogs and Puppies FAQs


A cleft palate is generally detected by visual examination of newborn puppies by the veterinary surgeon or breeder. The cleft palate of the lip or hard palate is easy to see, but soft palate defects can sometimes require sedation or general anaesthesia to visualise.

Affected puppies will often have difficulty suckling and swallowing. This is often seen as coughing, gagging, and milk bubbling from the pup’s nose. In less severe defects, more subtle signs such as sneezing, snorting, failure to grow, or sudden onset of breathing difficulty (due to aspiration of milk or food) can occur.


Treatment depends on the severity of the condition, the age at which the diagnosis is made, and whether there are complicating factors, such as aspiration pneumonia.

Small primary clefts of the lip and nostril of the dog are unlikely to cause clinical problems.
Secondary cleft palates in dogs require surgical treatment to prevent long-term nasal and lung infections and to help the puppy to feed effectively. The surgery involves either creating a single flap of healthy tissue and overlapping it over the defect or creating a ‘double flap’, releasing the palate from the inside of the upper teeth, and sliding it to meet in the middle over the defect.
Feeding of affected puppies requires tube feeding small quantities of milk every 2 hours from birth; older pups may be weaned onto solid foods from as early as 4 weeks of age.

Puppies with aspiration pneumonia will require antibiotics and sometimes hospitalisation, dependent on severity before any surgery can be performed.

Each patient’s individual health concerns and the severity of the palatal defect will govern the ideal timing of surgery and the technique used. In some cases, more than one surgical procedure may be necessary as the puppy grows and the palate expands.

Most cases have an excellent long-term prognosis following surgical correction (dependent on severity and location). However, some dogs can have long-term complications even following successful surgery. They can be at increased risk of upper respiratory infections and some may have a chronic nasal discharge that is not definitively treatable.

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Puppies with cleft palates should ideally be tube fed until they are 3-4 months old before surgery. This allows the puppy to grow to a size where fewer procedures are required and general anaesthesia safety is increased, while also limiting the risk of aspiration.
Puppy cleft palate repair surgery is typically performed between the ages of 6 and 12 months. The roof of the mouth gap has been closed, and the muscles and palate lining have been realigned. Dissolvable stitches are used to close the wound.


Causes of a Cleft Palate. A cleft palate is a congenital condition. This means that a dog is born with this condition, making it a genetic condition. However, the puppy’s mother may have been exposed to nutritional deficiencies, viruses, and poisons during her pregnancy, all of which contributed to the birth defect. Purebred dogs are more likely to have the condition than mixed breeds. Breeds with brachycephalic syndrome appear to be especially vulnerable.

Even if they aren’t obvious, there are several signs that a puppy has a cleft palate. The following are the symptoms of cleft palates in dogs.

A deformed lip or a nostril are the two most common physical signs of a cleft palate or cleft lip. Depending on the shape and position of the cleft, a dog may only have one deformed nostril. The opening extending inside the mouth along the hard or soft palates that accompany a lip or nostril deformity is not immediately visible.

Depending on the shape and location of the defect, the dog’s upper or lower teeth and gums may protrude awkwardly from the mouth.

Coughing or gagging will also occur when attempting to drink water because some of the water will pass through the trachea rather than the oesophagus. If a newborn puppy is having difficulty nursing because it can’t latch on to its mother or a bottle, a dog breeder may notice a problem. When trying to nurse, milk may come out of its nose, or it may cough and gag.
Because of these deformities, as well as the fact that food and water can pass down the airway, eating becomes difficult, and a dog may become malnourished if it does not eat enough.

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A cleft palate in your dog can be classified as either a primary cleft palate (found on the lip and also known as harelip) or a secondary cleft palate (what we’re talking about here). In which the palate does not fuse together normally, leaving a gap between the cavities of the mouth and nose. A hard cleft palate is a bony defect in the roof of the mouth. A soft section cleft is defined as a hole in the swallowing portion of the mouth. The cleft can occur in both the hard and soft areas of the mouth at the same time.