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How do you bid farewell to your furry bestie?

Sunset Vets are pioneering improved experience in palliative and end-of-life care for pets

Many pet owners are mentally and emotionally unprepared when it’s time to bid farewell to their best friend, and need care, compassion and guidance from their veterinarian.

Dr Jackie Campbell is Australia’s first Internationally Certified Palliative Care Veterinarian (CHPV) and founded Sunset Home Veterinary Care, a pioneering veterinary service that delivers palliative care options and compassionate end-of-life care to older and terminally unwell pets in the comfort of their own home.
“Palliative care is a rapidly emerging field in veterinary medicine,” said Dr Campbell.
“We believe all families should have access to this type of compassionate care, leading a movement to improve care in the final weeks of life. We aim to support families through what they know are some of the most difficult of days.”

Sunset Vets' Dr Jackie Campbell with Tadmore - Photo Credit (& lead image) H2H Studios

Sunset Vets provides at-home specialised veterinary consultations, senior pet health care and advice, palliative care services, compassionate in-home pet euthanasia and grief counselling and support.

The Queensland-born company is one of only a handful of dedicated veterinary palliative care services in Australia, now expanding to Sydney due to increasing demand from pet owners who want the very best for their four-legged loved ones and connect with world class support.

“We are focused on improving and maintaining quality-of-life in the face of age or illness, supporting owners through the difficulties of end-of-life medical decision making and encouraging families to celebrate and treasure, rather than fear, the golden years with their pets,” said Dr Campbell.

“We allow families to be able to say a gentle goodbye at home and facilitate all care including cremation and counselling support.”

Zoe's Story

Zoe's family said a beautiful goodbye at home

Sian and Rod Blievers’ Labrador Zoe received palliative care from Dr Campbell for three years and made it to a grand age of 16 before she passed away. Her family said a beautiful goodbye to her in their garden at home as she drifted gently off to sleep while eating her favourite roast chicken.

“Zoe was a marvellous dog,” said Sian. “We adopted her in 2015. We already had two Golden Retrievers and weren’t looking for a third dog. My friend shared a post about Zoe, whose elderly owner had passed away and her family wasn’t able to care for a 12-year-old, overweight, arthritic dog

Sian at home with Zoe
Credit: H2O Studios
Zoe was going to be put to sleep. We thought let’s give her a home for her last chapter, and that turned out to be 4.5 years!”

Zoe became ‘mumma’s girl’ and impacted Sian’s life in a way she never imagined.

She said, “I have elderly parents and Zoe taught me to be patient with elderly people and dogs. She showed me how getting old and having physical ailments have positives and how determined and stable you can still be in old age.”

Zoe was stable, not moody, went from happy to happier, feisty, strong willed and determined, she said.

“When we went out walking, I would think ‘Zoe you shouldn’t go that far because you have to get back’. But she had the ‘I can do it’ attitude, even if it takes all day. She never gave up – she was a Margaret Thatcher of dogs,” said Sian.

When Sian noticed Zoe struggling more than she’d like, she reached out to Dr Campbell for palliative care.

“Dr Jackie helped give Zoe more years to her life than she should have had. She knew exactly what my dog needed. They loved each other,” said Sian. “Zoe walked further, didn’t get so tired and even built up some muscle which is incredible. We have a big house, and it took a fair bit to walk to get to bed!

“Zoe was so happy to be here, she would sit in the garden and gaze at everything. She knew she was home and was here to stay.”

Dr Campbell came every month checking on Zoe’s health and that’s when the family did their grieving, knowing they were giving Zoe the best care possible. With Dr Campbell’s guidance, they knew when it was time to say goodbye in September 2019.

“Zoe’s final few hours with us were lovely. We put her in our tractor and took her around the property one more time. Our dogs Bentley and Meg were there. We laid out a blanket with flowers, and Zoe’s favourite watermelon and roast chicken,” said Sian.

Zoe never had any kind of dementia or depression. She was sharp as a tac, right till the moment she passed away. She was eating and started snoring. Bentley turned his back on us completely and stared at the mountain. Meg was wrapped around me, Dr Jackie and Zoe. That was how we said goodbye.

“People say we gave her such a good life. I think she gave us far more than we gave her. She was amazing. In a normal world, we wouldn’t have her more than a year. But Dr Jackie’s knowledge, empathy and compassion gave Zoe the best she could have and for that reason alone we got so long with Zoe. She is an example of what palliative care can do for older dogs.”

Supporting young pets with terminal illness

While most of their pet patients are seniors, Sunset Vets’ palliative care team also works with people with young pets who are facing a terminal diagnosis.

“Often, it’s a heart-breaking scenario where families may need a little extra care. Their vets assist with the medical management of the pet, but so often it’s the emotional care they deliver to the owners and families that makes the biggest difference,” said Dr Campbell.

“Because pets at the end-of-life stage often have more complicated needs, we allocate much longer for an appointment than in a traditional hospital setting. As well as assessing the patient, we help owners understand what to expect from their pet’s disease journey, what to look for in times of crisis, and show them how to keep their loved ones as comfortable as possible.”

Sunset Vets’ palliative care team work closely with the pet’s GP (primary care) veterinarian and act to further support that vet hospital and client bond. Where appropriate, they also assist with referrals to other health professionals, including specialists and allied health professionals, such as animal physiotherapists.

Sunset Home Veterinary Care's Dr Jackie Campbell in consultation with a canine patient
“With an experienced support team available by phone 7 days a week, we offer care and expert guidance for clients trying to work through difficult decisions around quality-of-life and euthanasia,” said Dr Campbell.

“When the time for goodbye comes, we work with families to ensure their pet is comfortable and that their final moments are spent with everyone feeling supported and at ease.”

The team is also able to help with aftercare arrangements and offer pet owners access to professional grief support, having developed a unique partnership with universities across Australia to deliver a complimentary pet-loss specific grief counselling program.

“As we launch in Sydney with more vets joining the team, we hope to be able to provide more and more pet owners across Australia with the option of in-home care in the future, and access to an extra gentle way to say goodbye to their much-loved pets,” said Dr Campbell.

For more information or pet owner resources, please visit

About Dr Jackie Campbell

Dr Jackie Campbell BVSc (Hons), Dip Canine Myotherapy (CMT) is Australia’s first Internationally Certified Palliative Care Veterinarian (CHPV). She is the founder and Lead Veterinarian at Sunset Vets, a unique in-home veterinary service offering compassionate support services for dedicated clients who are wanting to make the final months and weeks of their pet’s life as comfortable and as pain-free as possible.

About Sunset Vet Home Care

Sunset Veterinary Care is a dedicated palliative care and euthanasia service helping families to access specialised end- stage care at home. Located in Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Canberra and Sydney. Member of the Australian Veterinary Association & International Association of Animal Hospice and Palliative Care.

MEDIA RELEASE, 9th September 2022

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