What to Expect When Adopting a Dog With a Cleft Palate


Lentil the French Bulldog as a puppy
Lentil's owner, Lindsay Condefer, fed the puppy through a tube every three hours around the clock until he was large enough for surgery.

Once the puppy has grown enough, he can undergo surgery to repair the palate.

“The first surgery is the best attempt to make the repair," Dr. Reiter says. "This type of repair can be difficult and sometimes takes more than one attempt, so my best advice is to go to a hospital that has a proven record of completing these procedures successfully and that also has good ancillary services, since puppies need special care after the procedure also, much like infants.”

After surgery, there’s a three- to four-week postoperative healing period where owners will have to keep toys away from their puppy so he won’t be tempted to explore them with his mouth. Owners will want to make sure the puppy avoids anything that might prove difficult for him to chew, including treats.

Usually puppies are able to return to normal life after this healing period. In some cases, however, additional surgery may be necessary, such as when the vet is unable to repair the defect completely the first time, the puppy plays with his sutures and causes them to come out too early, or the vet discovers additional issues with the hard or soft palate.

Your Puppy’s Future

While Dr. Reiter recommends having your vet check for other possible defects in your puppy just in case, once the cleft palate is repaired, he says your puppy will most likely be able to live out his days as a normal dog.

“There are definitely a good number of dogs out there doing well after surgery,” says Dr. Lewis. “Although it requires a lot of care and hard work, in the long run these pups make great pets.”