Most often discovered in very young puppies, a cleft palate is when the tissues in the mouth haven’t fused properly in the womb, leaving an opening between the mouth cavity and the nose.
A cleft palate, if left untreated, can allow food and liquid to enter the nasal cavity which can lead to serious complications such as choking.
Symptoms of a cleft palate can be quite severe, including aspiration, pneumonia and even death if it is not detected early on. Other less severe symptoms include stunted growth, coughing and infection.
Diagnosis is very straightforward and generally only requires a visual check of the mouth and nose by your vet.
Treatment varies depending on the severity of the cleft, and the age of your pet.
Young puppies with the disorder must undertake a feeding and care regime recommended by your vet prior to surgery taking place. Their feeding will often be through a tube which will need to be done every 3 to 4 hours for up to 3 months, or until the puppy is old enough for surgery.
Surgery is the only way to fix a cleft and, depending on the severity of the cleft, multiple surgeries may be necessary. Post op care will be needed, but the pet will usually reach full health unless there are further complications.