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Cleft Palate

Cleft palate is a skeletal disorder occasionally seen in puppies and kittens of all breeds. A cleft palate results when the bones forming the roof of the mouth do not grow normally. This results in an opening in the roof of the mouth that communicates into the nasal cavity allowing liquid and solid food to enter the nose during feeding.

The cleft may involve the hard palate, soft palate or both, and vary in severity from a narrow slit to near absence of the entire palate. Large clefts prevent the newborn from nursing and may result in inhalation of milk, causing death from aspiration pneumonia. With small clefts, bubbling of milk from the nose or chronic nasal discharge may be the only sign.

What are the symptoms?
Puppies and kittens as young as one day old will often have milk come out their noses as they nurse. They may also inhale milk into their lungs, causing a difficulty in breathing or even pneumonia. When the pet's mouth is examined, a slit will be seen in the roof of the mouth.

What are the risks?
The milk tends to enter the nasal passages and lungs. Most patients will die at an early age from pneumonia and/or malnourishment.

What is the management?
Mild openings in the mouth roof can be surgically corrected. More severe instances cannot. Frequently if the cleft palate cannot be surgically closed, euthanasia is advised.

The information on this page was obtained from the site www.peteducation.com