Canine cleft palates

By Connie Orcutt • Published: February 1st, 2016
Category: Animal Airwaves

Although uncommon, dogs can be born with defects that affect their quality of life. One of these is a hole in the roof of the mouth called a cleft palate.

The opening results in food and liquid passing into the nasal cavity, which can then result in nasal congestion, coughing and even pneumonia. Affected puppies also have trouble nursing.

Some breeds — like those with flat noses — are at greatest risk of developing cleft palate, and there’s little we can do about it. But cleft palate can also form when pregnant dogs come in contact with chemicals that can damage developing embryos, such as a drug called griseofulvin [griz-ē-ō-FULL-vin] or a surplus of vitamin A or D.

Most cleft palates can be surgically repaired but some can even be prevented. To do your part, make sure your pregnant dog eats only the diet recommended by your veterinarian.