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Recurrant Cleft Palates: What's Going On?


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I turned my property in WA over to the management of someone who aspires to be a breeder. They have had three litters since moving in. In the first, two cleft palates, in the second, three, and in the third, seven. This is with two different bitches, three different dogs, and no known history of cleft palates anywhere in the pedigree. So it looks like the problem is environmental. Needless to say, they are devastated.

I had a dozen litters on the same property, in the same quarters, and had one cleft palate in a total of more than 100 pups. The breeder next door has not had problems.

Anyone have any ideas about what might be going on? The would-be breeder thinks the problem is a scummy pond that the dogs drink from and swim in.

p.s. My reading says the known environmental causes are most often food or drug related . . . and that mycotoxins from moldy dog food are a probable cause. I'd be happy to be found wrong. But I'd hate to see these folks go to great effort to clean up or remove the pond and have it do no good.

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Some pesticides can also be involved.

Many years ago we had a problem with cleft palates in litters. It was a similar story to the one that you describe and it involved unrelated bloodlines and bitches that had pevious breeding histories in another environment.

At the time the property behind us was a plant nursery which grew carnations for cut flower sale. The property owner used all sorts of chemicals on the plants at different stages of growth, in particular certain insecticide mixes. It wasnt a greenhouse type of operation but open to the air and so when the easterly winds blew (as they do in Perth !!) we believed that some of these sprays were blown onto our property and therefore our dogs were exposed to them.

Although we had no absolute proof about this, we spoke with the owner and explained our concerns. He agreed to ensure that the spraying was done on days when wind predictions were low.

The incidence of CP reduced significantly but we still had cleft palates in a couple of litters. When the business closed and the property was sold we had no more problems and CP has been a rarity ever since. This was great, but of course it also left me wondering about the public health implications !! If the overspay or carry over of the chemicals was enough to affect as yet unborn baby puppies what could it do to people in the area ??

Perhaps your friends could check to see if any neighbours are routinely using any herbicides or insecticides that could be carried over via the winds in the area.

It's also believed that an elevated maternal body temperature at a particular stage of foetal development can interfere with palate closure.

This could be caused by any of the mosquito borne viruses that are endemic to the area. Dogs that are affected can subclinical or not necessarily showing any obvious signs of illness.If the pond is not well maintined there could be a high population of mozzies in the area.

Edit for spelling !!

Edited by Wundahoo
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