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A Good Life Deserves a Good End

Melbourne Veterinarian Dr Amanda Tenne talks acupuncture in animals and how to say a gentle goodbye at-home

No longer are pets restricted to the backyard with interactions built on the occasions we walk outside. No. Now pets are a cherished part of the family. They sit on our couch, sleep at our feet, and in many cases are considered our surrogate children.

Which makes it all the more difficult when the time comes to say goodbye.

The veterinarians at Sunset Vets Palliative and End of Life Care (Sunset Vets) work specifically with senior or terminal cats and dogs providing palliative and end of life care. 

Dr Amanda Tenne
, who has been a Veterinarian for 25 years, is one such Melbourne Vet who combines extensive experience with traditional Chinese medicine for her palliative patients.

A relatively new field in the Australian Veterinary industry, palliative care refers to the ideals of ensuring patient comfort even if curative medicine is no longer possible, providing access to individualised age-appropriate health care and supporting families through the difficulties of end-of-life decision making. 

For Dr Amanda, working in the palliative care field is an honour. “It’s a really special time to be allowed into a pet's life,” said Dr Amanda. 

“You don’t become a Vet unless you care about animals. And being allowed to care and support a patient and their family at the end is such an honour.”
Dr Amanda who has had a rich and extensive career working throughout Australia and the United Kingdom combined her interest in acupuncture with her love of Veterinary medicine and completed a Graduate Diploma of Veterinary Acupuncture through the College of Integrated Veterinary Therapies (CIVT) in addition to her Veterinary qualifications.

“I do acupuncture for palliative and geriatric patients with the goal to keep pets comfortable and happy for as long as possible. It’s something that pet owners don’t always know is an option for their pet,” Dr Amanda explained.

“Similar to human healthcare, acupuncture for pets can relieve pain, nausea and pressure, assist in the health care of chronic illnesses, reduce blood pressure and so much more. It’s particularly helpful for senior cats with kidney deficiencies.”

When asked how acupuncture is performed on animals, Dr Amanda explained that each pet is different and about 70 per cent respond to the treatment.

“When you acupuncture an animal, you need to work with them”, Dr Amanda explained. They all react in different ways. 

Sometimes they move away, sometimes they eat or sleep through the whole treatment, and sometimes they shake all the needles off. It creates changes in their body, but I find that once they’re used to it, they look forward to it. I won’t know if an animal will respond to acupuncture until they’ve tried it, and I work with owners to grade the pain points before and after treatment to see if we’re getting the desired response. Acupuncture is delivered in conjunction with conventional veterinary treatment options and always in-line with what the owner wants.”

Sunset Vets expanded into Melbourne earlier this year and this now sees Dr Amanda and other Melbourne based Veterinarians deliver palliative care and compassionate euthanasia in the home environment. Something that makes all the difference to Dr Amanda.

“Providing end of life care in the home alleviates a great deal of stress for the pet and the owner. I gave a beautiful patient her wings recently; and providing this service at home allowed this cat to remain in her favourite spot on the couch, next her favourite person, dozing in the sun. I was able to complete the entire euthanasia with her curled up in an environment that she loved and was comfortable in which is just so respectful to the patient”.

Although euthanasia is a big part of end-of-life care, palliative care is often an important life phase before the final decision is made. The veterinarians at Sunset Vets work closely with families and primary care veterinarians to build a health care plan unique to their pet. Care plans consider the pets wellbeing, environmental supports, emergency plan and financial factors with the patient’s quality of life at the heart of every decision made.

“Whether it be a palliative care appointment or euthanasia; delivering these services in the home often makes the process quite peaceful and can sometimes help ease a family’s grief at this difficult time,” said Dr Amanda.

But processing grief is something that doesn’t always come easy for clients or for the Vets delivering the treatment. The heartbreak families experience through the process of palliative care or euthanasia can be debilitating. This is why Sunset Vets offer free professional counselling for those struggling with loss or end-of-life decisions.

“The fact that Sunset Vets offers free counselling is so, so important,” Dr Amanda said. “To me, it was the missing piece in euthanasia and palliative care.
“As a vet you can’t not feel. The day you stop caring should be the day you walk away from medicine.
“Each experience is different and the grief our clients feel is sometimes palpable which of course affects us. But along with that sadness, you feel honoured.

“A good life deserves a good end, and it is such an honour to be trusted enough to alleviate suffering and help a beloved member of a family move on.”

For more information or pet owner resources, please visit

About Sunset Vets

Sunset Vets Palliative and End of Life Care (Sunset Vets) is a dedicated palliative care and euthanasia service helping families to access specialised end-stage care at home.

Launched in 2014, Sunset Vets is founded by Dr Jackie Campbell, Australia’s first Internationally Certified Palliative Care Veterinarian (CHPV). Delivered nationally through a team of mobile veterinarians, Sunset Vets operates exclusively in the palliative and end of life care space and provides expert at-home care to pets during their final stages of life whilst supporting families through the difficulty of end-of-life decision making.

Sunset Vets work in partnership with primary care veterinary clinics and services are available seven days a week by appointment. Many patients are geriatric or face a terminal diagnosis.

MEDIA RELEASE, 26th July 2023

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