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Animal Health Care

Caring for the health of animals is a big industry, involving all sorts of people, in many different ways - from pet owners and farmers, to animal welfare officers and veterinary staff.

All of these people need to know about animal health in a broad sense, and understand the health needs of the specific animals in their care.

Learn Animal Husbandry and Biology First

An understanding of animal husbandry or biology is doesn't make you an expert in animal health, but it is a foundation for being successful in all sorts of careers. If you do not know anything about the physiology and anatomy of animals, it is hard to properly and fully comprehend health issues that you encounter.  Once you understand the biology, you then need to get an understanding of health issues.

Why Should Sick Animals be Kept Apart?

It is generally best to physically separate different species of animals being kept in a veterinary situation. This reduces chances of inter-species disease infection, and reduces stress caused by inter-species conflict. This is best achieved by keeping different species in different rooms (e.g. one room for dogs, one room for cats, and one or more rooms for other types of animals). If different species are located in the same room, they can be isolated (if deemed necessary), by using laminar flow cabinets, filtered or micro isolation cages. In some cases, animals of the same species may need to be separated (e.g. if they have been infected by different strains of the same or similar disease).

Infectious Disease

There are two types of problems:

  • An infection may spread from one animal to another.
  • An infection might spread from an infected animal to a person.

Some species can carry an infection which doesn't seriously affect them, but when transmitted to another species, can be very serious, perhaps even fatal.


  •  Rats with Streptobacillus moniliformis should be isolated from mice which usually do not have this disease.
  • Rabbits can be infected by various diseases which can be deadly to other animals, particularly guinea pigs (i.e. Pateurella multocida or Bordetella spp.).
  • Benign diseases in African monkeys (e.g. epidermal monkey pox) can cause serious disease in Asian monkeys.
Containing Diseases

Contagious diseases are controlled in the first instance, by isolating any infected animals (i.e. quarantine). Even animals which are only suspected of being affected, should be also isolated.

In some cases, and with some types of diseases, infected animals may need to be destroyed.

Disposal of Waste

Disposal of Dead/Infected Tissues

Dead tissue is an inevitable problem for any veterinarian, being the result of surgery and/or euthanasia. It needs to be disposed of in a sanitary manner, and these disposal procedures are often controlled by law.

Incineration is possibly the best option, though proper burial may also be used. A council contractor may collect dead animals/tissues from veterinary surgeries after dark, for incineration. Burial is in a pet cemetery (less often than cremation). 

Dangerous Non-Animal Wastes

A veterinarian will also need to dispose of other dangerous waste products (e.g. chemicals, sharp objects). These wastes are commonly placed in a "sharps container" which is an unbreakable plastic bucket, with a lid. This is then incinerated.

Working with Animals

Often expectations are not the same as the reality. Most people who start out on a career path, will usually divert from their original goals as time moves on. This is because:

  • The job they have in mind when they start, may simply not exist by the time they are trained and experienced enough to do that job.
  • Their perception of what a job would be like changes from fantasy to reality, as they study, gain experience, learn, and hence develop a proper awareness of that job.
  • Opportunities that were anticipated may never arise - but more attractive opportunities arise that were never anticipated.
  • Priorities change. When a person starts studying and gaining experience, for instance, earning money might change to be a higher or lower priority.

A lot of people become fascinated by the biological science that underpins animal husbandry and veterinary science, but this doesn't necessarily mean they love interacting with real live animals.

Plans and Opportunities for Learning

In reality, many graduates end up working in disciplines other than those they studied, partly because opportunities they anticipate do not arise at the time, or in the place, they hoped for, but also because their interests and motivations change. This should not dissuade you from studying though, but it is worth considering when you are planning your studies. It is possible that a broader based course which teaches general skills in your area of interest might be more useful to you in the longer term than a specialist course. Studying a qualification with ACS which provides core studies, plus the options of electives will provide you with a good foundation of skills and knowledge, whilst also providing elective options for you to choose your area(s) in which you wish to specialise.

If you are thinking of studying, why not get in touch with us today? We can answer your questions and discuss with you the different course options available to you.

You can phone us on (UK) 01384 442752 or (International) +44 (0) 1384 4427522.

Or, you can submit your questions to our specialist Agriculture and Animal Husbandry tutors; they will be pleased to help you.

[16/01/2021 01:33:57]

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