A cleft palate is a hereditary disorder, characterized by mal-union of the bones forming the upper jaw and palate. Consequently an unphysiological gap or opening between mouth and nasal cavitiy is occuring.
The cleft, which can be of varying size, complicates sucking as well as swallowing. In severe cases the dog cannot create a vaccuum in the mouth which can lead to considerable problems during feeding. Puppies with cleft lips often leak milk or food mash from the nose which leads to sneezing and frequent choking. If the cleft is not noticed and closed, it can lead to infections of the respitory system and in bad cases to starvation. Other symptoms are chronic nose and breathing problems
The palatine cleft is an inherent defect and mainly appears with short-headed dog breeds. Possibly, it may also be caused by traumata (falls, foreign matters spear into the palate).
Depending on the size and the disorders being related to it, a palatine cleft shall be closed surgically. Often, palatine clefts may only be closed under favorable conditions (small cleft, young puppy age).
At next opportunity call your veterinarian and agree upon a date within the next days or week to consider a surgical intervention. There are no self-help measures possible.