Owners fork out for pet health

LUCKY POOCH: Fleur Keys with her dog Tui.
LUCKY POOCH: Fleur Keys with her dog Tui.

More canines are surviving the big C, as pet owners pursue the latest treatments medical science can offer.

New Zealanders are forking out thousands on surgery and chemotherapy to extend their pets' lives while Massey University looks to set up the country's first animal cancer centre.

Meanwhile, one of the country's biggest pet insurers, Ellenco, has seen an 8 per cent increase in business in the past year, with 11,000 cats and dogs now insured under the Southern Cross-owned company.

Animal oncologist Dr Jonathan Bray s aid while in the past animal cancer sufferers were eased into death, developments in veterinary science and people's attachments to pets meant treatment was increasingly being sought.

"What's happened in the last 10 to 20 years is that animals have become part of the family, and as that has occurred, interest in treating cancer has risen dramatically.

"The expectations are that the vet would provide treatment for cancer as they would treat heart disease or any other condition."


It took surgery and months of chemotherapy, but Tui the border collie is now in remission.

Wellington dog owner Fleur Keys spent more than $7000 to save Tui's life after a malignant tumour was found on her hind leg.

Ms Keys and husband Gary Basham rescued Tui from an SPCA in Taupo, and the former farm dog quickly ingratiated herself into the Wellington household.

But just six months into her new life, a routine checkup revealed a suspicious lump.

"We talked with the vet about the options for her, and decided to go down the chemotherapy route with some trepidation.

It sounds like a ghastly experience, and we certainly didn't want to put an animal through that," Ms Keys said.

"But she was a firm member of the household, and we wanted to do the best we could for her."

The seven-year-old dog had surgery to remove the tumour, before undergoing 10 rounds of chemotherapy at Tasman St Vet Centre.

Despite some lethargy and a duller coat, Tui appeared to do just fine.

"We would have pulled the plug on it if it looked like she was suffering."

They did not have pet insurance.

While it was a big financial and time investment – Tui had to go to the vet every week for about four months – they would do it all again.

"People probably thought we were mad, but we thought it was worth a shot and now she's a bundle of energy."

The Dominion Post