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Privileged to be an End-of-Life Vet

Sometimes, when we're very lucky, we end up doing the job that we dreamt about doing as a child. 

This is true for Sunset Vets Veterinarian, Dr Angela, who always knew who she was meant to be, and in an incredible show of perseverance and dedication, made her lifelong dream of being a Vet a reality.
“I wanted to be a Vet since I was five years old,” said Dr Angela.
“But I had a lot of fun at high school and maybe didn’t apply myself as well as I should have. So, when I graduated school, wanting to be in healthcare, I became a nurse.

“Although I loved nursing and had an incredible, long career which ranged from critical care, spinal injuries, emergency and management; the whole time I kept thinking, ‘one day I want to be a Vet’. It got to a point where I thought ‘I need to do this, or I’ll wake up and be 70’ and that very week I enrolled to start the process of becoming a Vet.”

Proving just how driven Dr Angela was to her goal, she completed her Veterinary qualification whilst continuing to work part-time as a Registered Nurse.

“I loved being a Vet and I started my career in general practice,” said Dr Angela.

“I wanted to improve my patient’s quality of life, and I quickly learned that small changes can make a big difference to the well-being of an animal. I wanted to provide comfort care and relief for an owner, so consultations were something I really enjoyed.

“It was during this time that I found and joined the Sunset Vets team.”

Incredibly, Dr Angela was completing her PhD in Infection Prevention and Control in Small Animals when she joined Sunset Vets.

“Having worked in general practice I found myself wanting to spend extra time with clients during palliative and end-of-life appointments,” Dr Angela explained.

“There’s so much health information to provide, and owners often have a lot of questions. I loved the idea of being able to take the time to address everyone’s concerns and needs.

“Assessing patients in a home environment that they’re comfortable in also really appealed to me. I felt like I was able to make a real difference to animals and their families and develop a clear action plan.

“I believe that it's a privilege to be trusted to do what we do. Supporting our patients in a peaceful and calm environment is very rewarding.”

However, goodbyes are never easy, and despite the incredible skills and experience Veterinarians have; it's not uncommon for Vets (some of the greatest animal lovers around), to struggle with the idea of euthanising their own pets. Dr Angela was no different in this circumstance.

“When it comes to saying goodbye to a pet, the needs of every family are very different", Dr Angela said.

“I take a holistic approach in my appointments and part of that is looking at the big picture, finding out what's important, and honouring the individual needs of the client whether it be spiritual, emotional, or other.

"Ensuring owner needs are met is crucial to my care model as it’s something that’s also very important to me as a pet owner.

“Over the years we’ve said goodbye to lots of our own pets and the time to say goodbye to our beautiful cat Tom came at the end of last year.

"I previously have had to euthanase one of my pets in an emergency and that was just devastating. I firmly knew I never wanted to do that again.

“Saying goodbye to Tom was the best thing we could do for him and with the help of one of my wonderful Sunset Vets colleagues, we were able to do this peacefully at home.

“Tom was able to spend his final afternoon lying in the sun, and my son was able to arrange for his girlfriend to come over and support him. Despite the grief I felt around saying goodbye, it was a relief knowing we could be at home and take our time saying our goodbyes.
“It was peaceful. And that was important to me.”
This first-hand experience, along with Dr Angela’s extensive experience makes her such an empathetic and compassionate professional. A perfect fit for a Veterinarian working exclusively with terminally ill or senior pets. But when it comes to senior pets, Dr Angela wants owners to know one very important thing.
Animals hide their pain.
“I have lost count of the number of people who have said ‘they don’t believe their animal is in pain’ and this is because their animal isn’t crying or vocalising,” says Dr Angela.

“It’s my wish that owners have a greater understanding of how animals can hide their pain, or how they can display pain in ways you don’t expect. For example, stiffness and limping will almost always indicate pain even if your pet is still getting around quite well.

"Owners are often astounded by the transformation of their pet after pain has been identified and pain relief provided for their pet. Quality of life can be improved drastically by managing pain.

“And that’s why palliative care is so important. Pets are beloved members of the family, and they deserve the best care, no matter what stage of their life they’re in.”

For more information on Sunset Vets, visit

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