A DISTRAUGHT family is appealing for help to pay for the cost of vital medical treatment for its beloved pooch.

Messi, a 12-year-old Jack Russell chihuaha cross needs a specialist dental operation costing up to £1,300 to remove roughly ten decayed teeth that have caused a mouth infection.

He is booked in for treatment on December 16, but owners Gary Oliver and Tammy Durgun now need to find the money to pay for it after finding out their insurance doesn’t cover it.

“I don’t know what else to do,” said Gary who lives with his partner and six-year old daughter, Lacey Dee, in Walcot.

The couple are on benefits due to ill health.“We haven’t got that sort of money just in our back pocket.”

“We’ve got two weeks basically to find this money,” Gary said.

“If he doesn’t get treated it will just get worse and spread and eventually he will pass away,” he added.

A Go Fund Me appeal has so far raised £1,000 of a £1,500 target.

Messi has had three visits to the vet after going off his food and pawing at his mouth a couple of weeks ago. He was taken there again on Monday night after developing a swelling on his face.

Gary said consultation fees, blood tests, urine tests and four different medications as well as visits were “just costing an arm and a leg.”

The family have had Messi since he was an eight-week-old puppy. They approached the PDSA for help but are still waiting to hear back.

“You have to meet certain criteria and it takes a long time too, which we haven’t got. And obviously Christmas is just around the corner and we’re struggling big time.”

He said the situation was particularly hard for his daughter Lacey Dee.

“She’s autistic and her and Messi are normally inseparable. She doesn’t really understand, and she says all she wants for Christmas is for her dog to be well. For a six-year-old to say that is quite touching.”

The family have set up a gofundme page to ask for help with the vet bills.

“I can’t see any light at the end of the tunnel,” said Gary. “Apart from the people who have been so lovely donating, and I wish I could thank every single one of them.

“Messi is more than just a dog to us, he’s like our son,” Gary added. “He’s an absolutely awesome dog, I couldn’t ask for a better dog.

“He’s never ever bitten anyone, he’s so loyal and I just don’t’ want to loose him.”

To donate towards the appeal visit gofundme.com/f/save-our-best-friend-messi