Cleft Palate

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    What Is Cleft Palate?

    A cleft palate is a birth deformity in which the palate (the roof of the mouth) fails to fuse along its midline before birth.


    Often the condition leaves an open space through the roof of the mouth into the breathing passages. Food and other foreign material may pass from the oral cavity into the nasal cavity through this defect, leading to chronic nasal inflammation and discharge. Excessive nasal secretion may be aspirated into the lungs.

    Affected puppies or newborns have difficulty eating and suckling and will not grow as quickly or as large as their littermates. Some pups with cleft palate that attempt to nurse may potentially, aspirate and die.


    It can usually be corrected surgically by a specially trained and skilled veterinarian.

    Susceptible Dog Breeds

    The defect is more common in the:

    Brachycephalic breeds such as:

    can have up to a 30% increased risk of this disorder. In the Brittany Spaniel breed, cleft palate is inherited as an autosomal recessive trait.

    Video Credits: Animal Planet, Discovery Channel
    Image Credits: The Spruce Pets


    1. Cynthia M Kahn, Scott Line – The Merck/merial Manual for Pet Health
    2. Dan Rice, D V M Dan Rice. – Small Dog Breeds
    3. Mordecai Siegal – UC Davis Book of Dogs: The Complete Medical Reference Guide for Dogs
    4. Elwood et al. – Observations on the prevention of cleft palate in dogs by folic acid and potential relevance to humans.
    5. Richtsmeier et al. – Cleft Palate with Autosomal Recessive Transmission in Brittany Spaniels.


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