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Note for Pet Owners

This information is provided by Provet for educational purposes only.

You should seek the advice of your veterinarian if your pet is ill as only he or she can correctly advise on the diagnosis and recommend the treatment that is most appropriate for your pet.

Too many supplements given to pregnant animals may be a major cause of the development of congenital cleft palate in cats and dogs

Cleft palate is a common congenital abnormality that is seen in cats, dogs and other species. If there is a serious defect  the individual may die early due to inhalation pneumonia, and treatment may not be possible.

A newborn puppy with severe cleft palate

Too much dietary vitamin A intake during pregnancy has been shown to cause cleft palate.

Commercially prepared complete pet foods contain more than sufficient available vitamin A yet breeders and owners frequently supplement their pet's ration with vitamin supplements. High vitamin A content is also a feature of many natural food sources including liver and fish oils. Cod liver oil is a very popular nutritional supplement with pet owners and it contains 18000mg per 100ml (4000 IU per gram). Some vitamin injections contain as much as 500,000 IU of vitamin A per ml.

Provet's Recommendations :

  • Excessive dietary vitamin A intake must be avoided during pregnancy, so
    • Avoid unregulated multivitamin or vitamin A supplementation during pregnancy
    • Avoid unregulated liver intake during pregnancy
    • Avoid unregulated fish oil supplementation during pregnancy
    • Great care is needed when administering parenteral vitamin supplements to pregnant animals
  • Feed a complete pet food formulated for pregnancy without supplements

Feedback request

Provet is conducting a survey into the possible link between vitamin A intake and the development of congenital cleft palate. If you have had a case and can recall the food and nutritional or vitamin/mineral supplements that your bitch was fed through pregnancy please send full details (or ask your veterinarian to send them) to Thank you.

 For further information about cleft palate - including breed predispositions CLICK HERE


Updated October 2013