Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

Charlie, a lovable Bernese Mountain dog, was born with cleft lip which is an incomplete closure of the upper lip. In humans, cleft lip is seen in approximately 1 in 1,000 births. There are no statistics regarding how often it occurs in dogs, however, it has been found various breeds such as Boston Terriers, Pekingese, Schnauzers, Labrador Retrievers, Cocker Spaniels, Dachshunds and German Shepherds. Cleft lips have also been seen in Bernese Mountain dogs, like Charlie.

 Charlie's lip prior to surgery

To correct the problem, Charlie’s owners brought him to Angell Animal Medical Center where he was treated by Director of Surgery, Dr. Mike Pavletic. Dogs with a cleft lip can normally eat and drink without much difficulty, however, it is not uncommon for food and water to drool out of the mouth when eating and drinking. When Charlie presented at Angell, he was otherwise bright and happy, although he had difficulty fully retaining food and water in his mouth. Dr. Pavletic suggested reconstructive surgery to correct the cleft lip and an adjacent palatal defect in Charlie’s mouth.

Dr. Pavletic reconstructed Charlie's lip using a procedure he had developed that realigned Charlie’s outer lip to the midline of his face. After two weeks of eating soft food and wearing an Elizabethan collar, Charlie was showing signs of full recovery. Facial symmetry was restored in his face, he was able to eat normally again, and he resumed his playful activities. In addition to correcting Charlie’s difficulty eating, this surgery gave him a normal looking appearance.

 Charlie following surgery

Dr. Pavletic and the rest of the Angell Surgery team are dedicated full time to surgery and provide key services to the rest of the Angell staff. The surgery department is equipped to perform a wide range of orthopedic and soft tissue procedures including the use of advanced technologies.

The four staff surgeons at Angell provide a wide array of expertise and national professional leadership in small animal surgery including the repair of ligamentous injuries to the knee, fracture repair, neurosurgery, thoracic and abdominal surgery, laryngeal surgery, cancer surgery, plastic and reconstructive surgery and arthroscopic procedures.

For more information about the Surgery service, please visit To make an appointment, please call Kim Swank at 617 541-5048.