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Duration (approx) 500 hours
Qualification Proficiency Award
Professional Award in Animal Care Distance Learning
Become a Professional Animal Carer through Distance Learning. If you already know your discipline and industry, you have a head start on being a successful animal care specialist. This course is designed to "top up" the skills you already have; giving you expanded skills you can offer employers or clients; and new ways of applying the knowledge you already have in an industry you already know.

Add training or health concepts and practical skills to your existing skills, to broaden business opportunities or attractiveness to employers. You don't need to commit to a degree to be an Animal Care Professional Many Animal Care professionals are in fact not qualified at all Success in Animal Care comes by having up to date, usable skills; good networking (contacts with industry) and being sensitive to the needs of owners and their pets.

What is a Proficiency Award? a type of “specialist” certificate; a way of topping up an existing degree or diploma with professional training that gives your employablilty a quantum leap forward; designed to provide a qualification to reflect “knowledge or skills” in a specialised area.

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for anyone working with pets and/or other animals

Note that each module in the Proficiency Award in Animal Care is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.

What is Good Nutrition for Domestic Animals? from our tutors
Animals which are fed a healthy balanced diet will generally retain optimum health.  Those that are not are more likely to succumb to diseases such as arthritis and diabetes amongst many others.  Improved health is maintained by a healthy and active immune system, protecting the animal from disease.  In nature, animals feed from a variety of fresh food sources, unfortunately we cannot replicate this diet for our domestic animals and therefore we need to supply the next best thing.

Avoid sugar in your pet’s diet.  It not only leads to teeth decay and obesity but reduces the lime minerals in the body. Be careful when giving bones to dogs.  Some experts recommend giving raw marrow bones to dogs, however, even these have been known to cause punctures to the digestive tract of small dogs.

The major components of animal (and human) diets are carbohydrates and protein. Other components include fats and vitamins and minerals.  In an ideal situation, foods would retain their vitamins and minerals, however, due to the nature of current agricultural practices and the heat treatment of processed animal foods this is not the case.


Carbohydrates provide energy for physical activity and help to maintain healthy organ function.

Animals that are fed low-carbohydrate diets tend to suffer the short-term effects of constipation. More significantly in the long-term it is thought that a deficiency in carbohydrates can lead to heart disease, a higher chance of cancer and increased pressure on the kidneys.

Carbohydrates are best provided through whole grains in the diet. According to standards in the United States, carbohydrates can constitute over half of the diet of a dog or cat (based on dry weight). This standard may vary between countries.
Excellent sources of carbohydrates in the diet include:

  • Oatmeal
  • Rolled Barley
  • Fresh wheatgerm
  • Cooked brown rice

Avoid empty-calorie sources of carbohydrates such as sugar, propylene glycol and corn syrup. 


Protein is essential for the growth and development of body tissue.

For many pets, meat is a natural and major component of their diet. It is highest in protein and is also rich in other nutrients. Fresh meat is the best for dogs and cats as it retains its protein and nutrients. Protein is also available to animals through legumes, some grains and dairy products. However, protein does not necessarily have to constitute a major part of an animal’s diet. When grains are combined, the effectiveness of the protein contained can be greatly enhanced due to the greater balance of amino acids.

Protein cannot be stored in the body, therefore, providing high quality protein in the diet is important

Good sources of protein include:

  1. Meat – especially rabbit
  2. Fish – avoid larger predatory fish as the flesh can be high in heavy metals
  3. Cheese, Yoghurt or Sour Cream – avoid cow’s milk
  4. Goats Milk for puppies
  5. Eggs – yolk.  Excessive amounts of egg white can inhibit trypsin in the gut (which is responsible for breaking down protein).

Functions of Protein:

  • Production of meat, milk and eggs
  • Build up of muscle tissue
  • Formation of internal secretions, hair, horns


These are the most concentrated source of energy in the diet. Fats carry fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E and K. Fats make calcium more readily-available to the body by helping with the absorption of vitamin D.  They also assist to convert carotene to vitamin A. Fats insulate the major organs and assist with maintaining body heat. They are also believed to help treat atopic dermatitis, kidney disease, high cholesterol and arthritis. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are the most beneficial fats to pet health.

Good sources of Fats and Lipids include:

  • Fish oil – provides both EPA and DHA  which can be given as a supplement for pets with atopic dermatitis
  • Vegetable oil – very good source of linoleic acid and unsaturated fatty acids, and
  • Poultry fat
Minerals are essential to the health of animals and assist with the absorption of vitamins. It is important to consult a veterinary expert before supplementing an animal’s diet to ensure that the maximum concentration is not exceeded.  If the required amount is exceeded, toxic poisoning may occur.

If the mineral intake of an animal is correct, there should be little need for vitamin supplements. The most common reason for a vitamin deficiency is a lack of iodine in the diet.  Iodine helps the thyroid gland to function properly which allows the body to properly synthesise vitamins.






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Meet some of our academics

Alison Pearce (animal)B.Sc.(Hons) in Animal Science. Masters Degree in Ecotourism. P.G.Cert. Ed. (Science). Alison's first job was in 1982 as a stockwoman, working with pigs in Yorkshire. Within a few years she of that she was working for the University of Western Australia as a Research Technician and instructor with their school of Agricultural Science.In 1989 she moved to Melbourne University as Unit Manager and Instructor in Animal Husbandry. By the mid 1990's she moved back to England to work in Animal Care and Veterinary Nursing at Cambridgeshire College of Agriculture. Throughout her career, Alison has developed and delivered courses in veterinary nursing and animal sciences for vocational colleges and universities in Australia, New Zealand and Australia. She has built a high level of expertise and an outstanding international reputation as an expert in animal sciences.
Dr. Gareth PearceGraduated from the University of Nottingham in 1982 with a B.Sc.(Hons) in Animal Science. Between 82 and 85 worked as Research Assistant and Demonstator in Animal Science at the University of Leeds. Over more than 30 years he has furthered his studies, obtaining eight significant university qualifications including degrees in Veterinary Science, Wildlife Conservation and Animal Behaviour. Gareth has significant teaching experience around the world as a faculty member at eight different universities including Associate Professor at Murdoch University and Director of Studies in Veterinary Science at Cambridge University. He has over 100 prestigious research papers published, and enjoys an outstanding international reputation in the fields of animal and veterinary science.
Peter Douglas Over 50 years experience in Agriculture and wildlife management. Former university lecturer, Wildlife park manager, Animal breeder, Equestrian. Peter has both wide ranging experience in animal science, farming and tourism management, and continues to apply that knowledge both through his work with ACS, and beyond.

Check out our eBooks

Medical Terminology DictionaryThe Medical Terminology Dictionary is a must have for students and professions alike. This book gives an A-Z of medical terminology that is commonly used as well as explanations of diseases. Topics covered within this book include 1/ Medical terminology: identifying root words, prefixes and suffixes, 2/ Medical Dictionary, 3/ Diseases and Syndromes.
Horse CareThis book is an accumulation of information from biology, agricultural science and veterinary medicine. It looks to explore and explain the fundamentals of appropriate horse care aims and techniques. In doing so it will consider horsemanship as a combination of art and science.
Animal HealthUnderstand animal health issues, diseases and how identify and manage illnesses and injuries. Animals can become sick for many different reasons -diseases caused by infections, injuries, poisoning, genetic disorders, poor nutrition and other things.
Caring for DogsA book for both students and dog owners. This book has been designed to complement our dog care and pet care courses; but also to provide a sound foundation for choosing the right breed, and caring for a dog whether as a pet, or a working animal. Contents cover Breeds, Creating a healthy home for dogs, legal issues, dog biology, recognising poor health, parasites, illnesses, nutrition, reproduction, dog psychology, behavioural development, training tips, behaviour problems, grooming, working in the dog industry, and more.