Cleft palate is a physical birth defect caused by an incomplete fusing of the two halves of the palate during neonatal development. The palate is the roof of the mouth. The hard palate is the front part of the mouth, and it separates the oral cavity from the nose. Cleft palate is caused by a disturbance of the normal processes that form the face and the jaw during fetal development.
Causes are genetic from mating a male and a female that both have cleft palates, resulting in more than 40% of their offspring to be affected, poor maternal nutrition, viral infection of the bitch during pregnancy, exposure to toxic things, chemicals, or other substances during pregnancy, metabolic disorders, physical or mechanical interferences of the fetus during development , and administration of corticosteroids to the female during pregnancy.
The best way to prevent these defects is to spay or neuter affected animals, or remove them from the breeding population, and no corticosteroids to be given to bitches during pregnancy.
Symptoms of cleft palate in dogs are:
chronic nasal discharge
obvious split upper lip
failure to thrive
Cleft Palate occurs sporadically in all breeds and mixed breeds of dogs, and equally in males or females, but it is more common in Beagles, Boston Terriers, Brittany Spaniels, English/French Bulldogs, Cocker Spaniels, Dachshunds, German Shepherds, Pekingese, Labradors, Schnauzers, Shetland Sheepdogs, and Shihtzus.
Brachycephalic breeds, those with broad skulls, and short flat faces are predisposed to developing Cleft Palate.
Treatment is corrective surgery to close the gap at 6 to 8 weeks of age.