Cleft palate puppy

We delivered a special puppy a few days ago by emergency section. She’s the smallest one of a prize litter of six frenchies. During her health check I sadly discovered a cleft palate.

This defect can occur in dogs as well as humans and other species, and in nature these would die from starvation. They are unable to form a vacuum to suckle and they weaken rapidly in the few days following birth. Without a vet check, they are often missed, and fade away at home. It’s important to open puppies mouths and have a look; you can see the defect clearly in these pictures.

Most vets recommend euthanasia for cleft palate puppies, because they are very difficult to rear successfully. They can only survive if they are managed by an experienced owner. They need intensive nursing for six weeks; using an orogastric tube for feeding. They must be fed every two hours initially, and supported until they are big and strong enough to wean. They need corrective surgery at about six months of age; and that’s not always successful.

Their delicate lives are fraught with difficulty; but we decided to try to save this one!

I don’t often advise anybody to take on all this work, in fact I actively discourage it because it’s upsetting to see them die (many of them do); but this owner is utterly dedicated to his dogs, and he said he would be heartbroken to have to put this little dote to sleep. We find it difficult too; after delivering a cute puppy by emergency section, it’s not easy to recommend euthanasia. I think the coronavirus situation has helped! Nothing better than a cute sick puppy to motivate us all!

I sent a tube feeding tutorial to Shane and supplied the feeding tubes and replacer milk; and he’s been doing a fantastic job. He managed to strip some colostrum from her mummy Floss and give it by the tube; which gives the puppy loads of immune boosting magic in a precious feed.

I’m planning on making a removable prosthesis for her in the coming days. I reckon I can mould one from a malleable plastic or a resin. I’ll be consulting our fab local dentist James at #thejamesclinic again for some tips; he’ll start to think I’m stalking him! 😂😂

I’m hoping a prosthesis will work, and if we can put in for bottle feeds it will make things easier.

She might not survive; but we’ll do all we can to save her.

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