Little Angel was born with a cleft lip, a birth defect that occurs when the tissue that makes up the lip does not join completely before birth, resulting in an opening in the upper lip. A cleft palate may involve any part or all of the palate. It may be quite small or extend the entire length of the palate from the nose and bony portion (hard palate), to the flexible portion used in swallowing (soft palate). In Angel’s case it includes the nose and front part of the palate extending between the mouth and nasal cavities.

Angel’s people also own her mother, so have had Angel since her birth. She has been having round the clock care at home to ensure that she has been fed correctly, meaning the correct amount to ensure growth, but also that it was done safely so she did not aspirate. Dogs with this condition can develop aspiration pneumonia which is a condition in which a dogs lungs become inflamed due to the inhalation of foreign matter if fed incorrectly.

Angel first came to visit us for her vaccination appointment, and had a discussion with Dr Lucy Rosenzweig at this time about what they could do to help Angel, discussing surgical options. Her owners were very keen to try surgery, but were worried as she is so young and tiny (being a baby Chihuahua) about how the anaesthesia would go. It was decided to wait another month to allow Angel to grow some more, and Angel was booked in for her surgery with Dr John Katakasi in one month.

The day came for Angel to have surgery and she weighed 860grams by then!

Dr John Katakasi first started the surgery by cutting fresh skin surfaces to start reconstructing the nostril, hard palate and the bottom surface to the nose. Closure is done with many sutures to reconstruct the area and give her the best chance that it will heal nicely.

From the surgery some narrowing of the nasal inlet may occur, but the owners have been informed to clean the nostril area 1-2 times per day with a moist cotton bud, to encourage the area to stay open and clean. There are thousands of bacteria that live within the area of Angels surgery, which makes the surgery at risk of infection and breakdown, she has been sent home with antibiotics to help control any infection. She is to also keep her elizabethan collar on her head to prevent any self trauma.

Angel will be enjoying soft food for the first 10 days post surgery, and her owners may need to syringe this food into her mouth to encourage eating. Which they are already very experienced in with her anyway. Angel will come and see us again 2 weeks post surgery to review how it is all going. Angels people also know to call us if they are concerned at all about how Angel is healing.

Little Miss Angel did come back to visit us 2 weeks post surgery and everything looks to be healing pretty well. Dr John Katakasi removed one of the sutures he placed at the bottom of the lip, but left the rest as they are still within a scabbed area and are dissolving. The left side of the nostril is small but open and patent and the sutures inside the mouth appear to be holding well.

Her owners advised that she is holding water well and not snorting after drinking like she was before. Also Dr John thinks it could get cosmetically better with time, but at time of desexing may be able to review the case, but it has been decided to see how it goes and then decide, as it may well be functional enough to not require any more surgery.

For now little Angel is fine and well, and coping very well and her owners could not love her anymore!