Symptoms and Signs of Cleft Palate in Dogs

Source: PetWave, Updated on July 16, 2015
Cleft Palate

How Cleft Palate Affects Dogs

Owners of dogs with cleft palates may notice one or more of the following things, especially in very young puppies:

  • Nasal congestion
  • Difficulty nursing or inability to suckle (caused by a physical inability to create enough suction or negative pressure to nurse properly)
  • Chronic nasal discharge (milk, mucus and/or pus dripping out of one or both nostrils of a newborn puppy)
  • Coughing
  • Gagging
  • Sneezing
  • Difficulty eating (dysphagia)
  • Difficulty breathing (dyspnea; respiratory distress; labored breathing; caused by aspiration/inhalation of milk, water or food)
  • Poor body condition; ill-thrift
  • Obvious “split upper lip”

Dogs at Increased Risk

Cleft palates occur sporadically in all breeds and mixed breeds, in dogs of either sex. However, they reportedly are more common in Beagles, Boston Terriers, Brittany Spaniels, Bulldogs (English and French), Cocker Spaniels, Dachshunds, German Shepherd Dogs, Labrador Retrievers, Pekingese, Pointers, Schnauzers, Shetland Sheepdogs and Shih Tzus. Brachycephalic breeds – those with broad skulls and short, flat faces - are predisposed to developing cleft palates.

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