Causes of Cleft Palate
Cleft palates are caused by something that disturbs the normal processes that form the face and jaw during fetal development. There is a failure of fusion of certain paired structures in utero. The hard palate, soft palate or both can be affected. Most authorities think that there is a genetic cause; mating a male and a female that both have cleft palates reportedly results in more than 40% of their offspring also being affected with the condition. Poor maternal nutrition, viral infection of the bitch during pregnancy, exposure of the pregnant female to toxic drugs, chemicals or other substances, metabolic disorders and physical or mechanical interference with the fetus during development have all been implicated as potential causes of cleft palates in dogs. Administration of corticosteroids to the female during pregnancy has also been associated with cleft palates in her puppies.
Prevention of Cleft Palate
There appears to be a significant hereditary component to cleft palates in domestic dogs. One of the best ways to prevent this defect is to spay or neuter affected animals – or at least to remove them from the breeding population. Authorities recommend that corticosteroids or other drugs that can potentially cause birth defects not be given to bitches during pregnancy.