For the Love of Dog – Chemotherapy, brain surgery and gall stone removal

Wednesday , 22 June 2016 by Alistair Gray

There is a growing trend of pet owners forking out for treatments that have traditionally been associated with humans, and pet ownership can break the bank.

Southern Cross Pet Insurance head Anthony McPhail says most people underestimate how much it costs to look after a pet and when disaster strikes Kiwis want to do anything to help their animals when they are unwell.

“Nearly a quarter of pet owners expect to pay $1,000 or less for health-related costs during their pet’s life, but our claims data suggests something quite different.

“It’s not uncommon for people to pay more than $10,000 during their pet’s life on healthcare. Without a public health system for animals, owners need to pay for all medical costs and if your animal is diabetic or has another chronic condition, the costs can start off small, but add up over time.

“Last year our largest standalone claim was for nearly $15,000 for an 11 year old Boxer with a brain tumour, and this year we’ve already paid a claim for $9,000 for a 7 year old Miniature Schnauzer with pancreatitis,” says McPhail.

Other claims include:

  • $10,800 for an eight year old Golden Retriever with cancer
  • $8,600 to remove a gall stone for an eight year old Bull Terrier
  • $3,900 for treatment to a 10 month old Griffon that had an allergic reaction from swimming in a pond

Despite being known for having nine lives, Cats are in no way immune from needing high cost treatments. Some of the top claims Southern Cross Pet Insurance have paid recently include:

  • $17,000 for surgical removal of lymphoma, plus chemotherapy treatment
  • $6,900 to pay for treatment for renal failure
  • Two claims of just over $6,800 to treat Peritonitis, which is inflammation in the abdomen
  • $6,300 to treat a broken leg
  • $5,900 to amputate one front leg after a dog attack.
  • $5,600 to cure Mycobacterial infection after the cat was bitten by a rat.


“We often don’t think about budgeting when looking at getting a pet. But when you tally up all the basic costs related to owning a cat or dog, you realise it’s quite significant. Throw in an unexpected injury or illness and your budget can be blown,” says McPhail.