Cleft palates in dogs and cats: 21 facts breeders need to know Part II

Part II of our blog on clef palates in canine and feline neonates!


  • About clinical signs and treatment

Fact #11: Affected animals often develop signs of upper respiratory disease, including sneezing, coughing and discharge of milk from the nostrils. This is because liquids (like milk from the mother) are allowed to pass in the respiratory airways.

Fact #12: These patients are predisposed to aspiration pneumonia,laryngotracheitis and chronic rhinitis. If nothing is attempted, they might choke or develop a fatal bronchopneumonia.

Fact #13: Surgical correction can be attempted. However the procedure has to be delayed until 8-24 weeks of age, when there is enough tissue to close the cleft and when the puppy/kitten anesthesia is easier to manage.

Fact #14: More than one surgical procedure might be required to achieve complete repair.

Fact #15: If the surgical option is picked, it is important to keep in mind that the affected puppy/kitten will need to be tube-fed until weaning. Even after that, extra-precautions must be taken to avoid development of aspiration pneumonia.

Fact #16: A puppy/kitten with a cleft palate requires LOTS of care. For instance these animals need to be tube-feed 8 times a day during their first week of life. This is NOT an easy task, seek your vet’s advices in case you wonder if you’re up to the challenge.

Fact #17: Puppies that will make it to surgery will usually have a totally normal life. It is however not recommended to use them as breeding dogs, because of the potential genetic determinism of the defect.


  • Folic acid and cleft palates’ prevention

Fact #18: In women, folic acid supplementation is recommended during gestation to prevent development of cleft palates in newborn infants. In dogs, 3 scientific studies showed that folic acid supplementation has the same preventive effect.

Fact #19: In order to supplement your pregnant bitch/queen with folic acid, there are two options: oral supplements can be used (see with your vet) or feed a diet already supplemented in folic acid (like our Ht42D for bitches or our Queen for queens). The supplemented diets make it easier in terms of observance.

Fact #20: As previously said, the development of the neural tube stops at 30 days of gestation. Folic acid supplementation must therefore be initiated since the beginning of pregnancy to be fully efficient. No point starting supplementing after 30 days of gestation.

Fact #21: Keep in mind that folic acid supplementation will have no effect if the problem is of genetic origin, or induced by drugs administered during pregnancy.

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Comment by Emmanuel PRO Technical Service on August 14, 2014 at 1:43pm

Thanks for your comment Valerie, glad you enjoyed it! Lots of research still needs to be done on cleft palates, especially concerning its genetic determinism. It is great that some research programs are looking into it, we need these data in the field !

Comment by Valerie Dubeau on August 12, 2014 at 6:37pm

It's quite interesting all the theories on how Cleft palates might happen, I have raised Chihuahuas for almost 14 years now and just had my first one back in 2013.. he's still with me today and its been quite the challenge. Prevention is the best thing ever and i am also in the process of sending off DNA to help with research. Thank you for creating the blog.

Comment by Emmanuel PRO Technical Service on July 25, 2014 at 8:40am

Thanks for telling me about this typo error, it is indeed 8times/day ! will correct it right away !

Comment by Buaidh on July 7, 2014 at 10:59pm

Hope you meant 8 times a day for tube feeding and not 8 times a week.  I have had to tube feed in the past and found that once you get over the fright it's not so bad.  

I've never had cleft palates in the 38 years I have been breeding,,,hope I never do.

Comment by Emmanuel PRO Technical Service on May 14, 2014 at 10:12am

Hi, thanks for your comment.

The folic acid concentration in our current Ht42D is 24mg/kg, this was defined based on the two studies mentioned above.

Hope this will help

Comment by Yorkhaven on May 12, 2014 at 4:00pm

What is the percentage of folic acid in the HT42d food?

Comment by Yorkhaven on May 2, 2014 at 12:17pm

I missed Part I: #1-10. Can someone please email it to me at I have searched ALL past blogs (getting sidetracked to read plenty of them, lol) but cannot locate the information of Part I: #1-10


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