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Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment

Learn about pet selection, care and welfare.

Study this 100-hour distance learning course - work with pets or learn more about caring for pets and their welfare.

  • Improve your knowledge of the care of pets.
  • Learn about pet welfare.
  • Understand selection, breeding, routine care, and much more.

Pet Care is an excellent foundation course for anyone who works with animals or wants to, and a great course for people interested in their pets.



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Learn about the care and welfare of all  types of pets.

This Pet Care course covers dogs, cats, fish, reptiles, amphibians, rabbits, hamsters and mice.
Course credentials: This course was written, developed, and is tutored by highly qualified and experienced professionals (including veterinary surgeons, former wildlife park manager, university lecturers).

Studying with this course will provide you with an outstanding opportunity to extend your knowledge, perspective and capacity to care for all types of pets.

Course Duration: 100 hours.

Start Date:
Start at any time - study at a pace that suits you, and with full tutor support for the duration of your studies.

Lessons: The course comprises 8 lessons as outlined, below.

Lesson 1. Introduction to Animal Care
Laws and licenses, Animal Charities and Societies (e.g. RSPCA, WSPA, Blue Cross), Pet Care Needs (feeding, watering, shelter, containment, fencing, caging, protection), Maintaining Health, Hygiene.

Lesson 2. Cats
Breeds (Lang Haired, Semi Long Haired, Short Haired, Oriental etc.), Cat Selection, Allergies, Containment, Sexing, Desexing, Breeding, Newborn Kittens, Exercise, Behaviour, Hygiene, Feed and Nutrition, Amount of Food, Watering, Grooming, Travelling, Care for a Sick Cat (Signs of illness, Temperature, Common ailments, Skin disorders, Ticks), Cats and Wildlife.

Lesson 3. Dogs
Dog Selection, Breeds (Pure and Mixed), Varying Size and Temperament, Grooming, Skin Care, Inherited Traits (aggression, deafness), Containment, Breeding, Desexing, Exercise, Behaviour, Feeding, Canine Nutrition, Bones, Watering, Training, Travelling, Identifying Sickness.

Lesson 4. Birds
Bird Selection, Breeds (e.g. Canaries, Finches, Budgerigars, Small Parrots etc.), Sexing, Desexing, Containment (Aviaries – selection, design, size, management),
Feed and Feeding, Watering, Grooming (Wing trim, Beak Trim, Nail Trim), Hygiene, Catching and Restraining, Travelling, Caring for the Sick Bird, Signs of Illness, Temperature, Supportive Therapy, Common Ailments (e.g. Abscesses, Alopecia, Apoplexy, Aspergillosis, Breathlessness, Constipation, Parasites), Safety in the Home.

Lesson 5. Fish
Fish Selection, Inside or Outside, Warm or Cold Water, Number of Fish, Types of Fish (Tropical, Marine, Cold Water), Costs, Size, Equipment (Tanks, Ponds, Pumps, Aquariums, Night lights), Water Quality, Changing Water, Feed (Pelleted, Live Feed – Daphnia, Brine Shrimp), Illnesses (Fungal, Bacterial, Parasites, Environmental).

Lesson 6. Rabbits
Rabbit Breeds (Large, Small and Dwarf), Selection, Legality (Illegal in some areas), Containment (Hutch or Cage), Environment (Temperature etc.), Feeding, Nutrition, Watering, Feed Quantities and Routine, Grooming, Handling, Moulting, Transporting, Sexing, Breeding, Identifying illness (Coccidiosis, Snuffles, Myxomatosisis, Sore Hocks, Pasteurellosis, Ear Canker, Heat Stroke, Cannibalism, Calcivirus Disease),
Care of Sick Rabbits

Lesson 7. Reptiles and Amphibians
Types (e.g. Salamander, Frogs, Venomous Snakes, Non-venomous Snakes, Shingle-backed Lizard, Tortoises, Terrapins, Axolotls, etc.), Selection, Legal Issues, Housing, Environmental Requirements (Moisture, Humidity, Warmth, etc.), Terrariums, Problems (e.g. Dehydration, Stress, External and internal parasites, Blisters, Scale Rot, Mouth Rot or Canker, Colds/pneumonia, Constipation and Diarrhoea, Cannibalism, Incomplete sloughing of the skin - shedding of the skin), Feed and Feeding, General Care.

Lesson 8. Guinea Pigs, Hamsters and Mice
Varieties, Selection, Containment, Sexing, Breeding, Grooming, Feeding, Watering, Illness (e.g. Skin Problems, Abscesses, Mites, Ringworm, Fleas, Respiratory Infection, Vitamin C Deficiency, Otitis, Salmonella, Stripping etc).



  • Discuss the general principles of pet care, as they relate to a wide range of different types of pets.
  • Describe routine care for cats. Compare the characteristics of different cat breeds.
  • Describe routine care for dogs.
  • Compare the characteristics of different dog breeds.
  • Describe routine care for birds as pets.
  • Describe routine care for fish · Describe routine care for rabbits as pets.
  • Describe routine care for reptiles and amphibians.
  • Describe routine care for rodent pets.


  • Develop timetables for husbandry tasks to be undertaken over a typical week, caring for a specific breed of animals.
  • Recognize things that indicate a dog is sick – diet and temperament.
  • Develop a checklist of things which should be done regularly to ensure the good health for pets.
  • Determine things a person should consider when trying to decide what type of pet to acquire.
  • Compare the requirements and restrictions for keeping different animals as pets in your locality.
  • Discuss the advantages/disadvantages of keeping different types of cats.
  • Explain why is it particularly important to de-sex cats and when de-sexing should be carried out.
  • Discuss the nutritional requirements of a cat, and identify the cause of N.S.H., and its early signs.
  • Describe problems associated with long haired dogs.
  • Discuss a dog’s sleeping requirements if it lives in a temperate climate.
  • Explain problems can arise through over feeding a dog.
  • Identify ideal diet for a dog.
  • Explain why puppies under 6 months should be allowed to exercise themselves.
  • Determine common signs of a general disease condition in a dog.
  • Explain why birds moult.
  • Discuss the characteristics of large, open aviaries, and all their requirements.
  • Discuss how a small bird should be caught in its cage.
  • Explain what breathlessness indicates in a bird.
  • Discuss factors are common in the care of all fish.
  • Explain why it is important to maintain the correct level of oxygen in water for fish.
  • Discuss differences in requirements for caring for salt water fish compared with freshwater fish.
  • Explain the handling, caging, feeding and other aspects of rabbit care.
  • Discuss different colours and breeds of rabbits.
  • Discuss the environmental/caging needs of all reptiles.
  • Discuss the feeding requirements of reptiles.
  • Explain the handling of reptiles.
  • Discuss the care of both sick and healthy amphibians and reptiles.
  • Explain how to determine the sex of a guinea pig, and the age do they reach sexual maturity.
  • Explain the temperature to keep guinea pigs at, and what happens if the temperature drops.
  • Explain the feed and nutritional needs of rodents.
  • Discuss what can happen if a female hamster with a litter is disturbed.
  • Explain how many litters a year could a female mouse produce if not prevented from doing so.
  • Explain health and disease problems associated with mice.

The Pet Care course is studied by distance learning, so you can study in the comfort of your own home. But this doesn't mean you are all alone in your studies.  Our highly qualified and friendly tutors are there to help you every step of the way.  If you have any questions at all, they are always happy to help.

Each lesson includes set tasks, and is completed with an assignment which the student submits to their course tutor.  The tutor will mark the assignment and return this to the student with comments and suggestions for further reading.


  • Quality - Our courses are written and taught by experienced professionals, so you know you can expect a high quality of teaching and support.
  • Flexibility - Study at your own pace and fit your studies around your own busy lifestyle - we provide full tutor support for all the time you are studying.
  • Options - choose from online study or eLearning options, to enable you to study where you want to.



  • Pet Owners.
  • People who work in pet shops.
  • People who aspire to work with pets (e.g. as a breeder, in an animal shelter, etc).

To enrol, simply go to the enrolment box at the top right-hand side of this page.  If you have any QUESTIONS, please, contact us - use our FREE COURSE COUNSELLING SERVICE to get in touch with our specialist animal and pet tutors. Choosing the right course is important and they are there to help and advise you on the making the right choice.

General Requirements For Keeping Pets
No matter what type of pets you are looking after there are some general needs that must be fulfilled. These include:

All animals will require sufficient food, of the right type/s, and at the right intervals. This will obviously vary considerably from animal to animal, for example dogs usually have diets with a high meat component, some birds will have diets high in seeds, some birds may require such things as insects or meal worms, rabbits and guinea pigs may be fed on grasses and vegetable scraps, while reptiles may be fed with live food (e.g. mice, frogs).

Understanding what types of food your animals require is very important, it is also important that you understand differing food requirements at different stages of their life (e.g. young versus mature animals, when pregnant or feeding young). To ensure the best health of your animals, only use good quality food that has been properly stored (e.g. not perished, or mouldy, or infested with pests). Discuss with your vet to ensure your animals are receiving adequate nutrition from their diet, and to determine ways in which you might need to modify it to improve their all round nutrient intake.

Although it can seem nice to treat pets to human foods and sweets, or to leave food constantly available to your pet, it can be very detrimental to their health. Certain foods that are fit for human consumption can in fact be toxic to pets. Allowing your pet to eat constantly, or providing them with a poorly balanced diet can lead to obesity. This is an increasing problem and has serious complications for animals, they are unable to move as freely and become sedentary, and they can develop joint problems such as arthritis, as well as injuries related to the stress on their spines from the additional weight. Heart disease is also more likely along with complications such as obesity related diabetes.

Nearly all animals will require regular watering, some having high water requirements. Water should be of high quality, and plenty provided.

The types of water containers provided should be suitable to the types of animals you are watering, for example deep, steep-sided containers may pose a drowning risk to small animals, including birds, while containers or troughs used by multiple numbers of a particular pet should provide sufficient room (access) so that there is not any great degree of competition between the animals for the water - this is particularly important on days of high water need (i.e. very hot days), or with more aggressive animals.

Water containers/sources should also be placed in suitable position where they are stable (not easily dislodged or knocked over), where they will not be contaminated by debris or animal droppings falling into them, and easily accessed by both your pets to drink, and you to fill them. For some animals the containers may need to be placed in a position that provides some degree of shelter and/or protection from other animals. Placing water in a position sheltered from the sun will also reduce evaporation rates. Ideally at least two, and depending on the space available and animals you are watering, possibly more separate containers should be available, in case one becomes fouled, or is knocked over. Animals can quickly suffer or die if sufficient water is not available on a hot day. Containers should be regularly inspected for damage, and regularly and thoroughly cleaned to minimise pest and diseases problems. Any automatic watering systems should be regularly maintained, and regularly checked to ensure they are operating properly.

Shelter/Containment/Protection Caging and fencing can serve a number of functions. These include:

  • Containment - ensuring you pet/s don't escape.
  • Shelter - providing protection against the elements.
  • Protection - both against other animals (predators), and to protect other animals and protecting people from your animal/s (e.g. snakes, aggressive dogs).

If you have any QUESTIONS, please, contact us - use our FREE COURSE COUNSELLING SERVICE to get in touch with our specialist animal and pet tutors. Choosing the right course is important and they are there to help and advise you on the making the right choice.

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Courses can be started anytime from anywhere in the world!

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.
Cheryl McLardyA scientist, teacher, writer and animal scientist, with more than 20 years experience including: Sports Horse Stud Groom, Stable Manager, Yard Manager, Equine industrial Training Manager, FE Distance Learning Manager. Cheryl has travelled widely, working in England, Scotland, Australia and New Zealand; and is now based in Scotland. She holds a Bachelor of Science (Hons), Higher National Diploma in Horse Management, and a City and Guilds Teaching Certificate.
Marius Erasmus Subsequent to completing a BSc (Agric) degree in animal science, Marius completed an honours degree in wildlife management, and a masters degree in production animal physiology. Following the Masters degree, he has worked for 9 years in the UK, and South Africa in wildlife management, dairy, beef and poultry farming.

Check out our eBooks

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.
PoultryPoultry are entertaining as pets and life sustaining as a commercial product! Whether you are seeking a book as a beginner poultry keeper or if you are embarking on a new career in poultry production or management, this book is for you. Easy to read, easy to understand and packed with easy to implement practical advice. Know how to care for the health and wellbeing of poultry and make production a commercially viable enterprise.
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.