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Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment

Animal Health Care Course

- you will develop your understanding of veterinary and animal health care practices. Learn more about animal health care.

ACS Student Comment: Yes [I found the course valuable]. I have animals, I am a dog training instructor. I am planning to commence a business providing in-home care to a variety of animals. So I wanted to upgrade my knowledge of animal health. I enjoyed the course and feel I have learned a lot. Beverley Bell,  Animal Health Care course.

An ideal starting point for someone wanting a career in the veterinary industry or who wants to work in health care with pets or farm animals.

Learn about common health problems, animal behaviour, signs of ill health, Veterinary facilities, safety and first aid, administration of animal health, preventative health care, routine health treatments, health problems in domestic pets and rehabilitation care.

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Learn more about common animal health problems:

  • Animal behaviour,
  • Indicators of animal ill health,
  • Veterinary procedures,
  • Safety procedure, 
  • Animal health administration and more...


A course originally developed by our team of veterinary professionals, as a foundation course for working as an animal attendant or veterinary assistant.


ACS Student Comments:

Yes [I found the course valuable]. I have animals, I am a dog training instructor. I am planning to commence a business providing in-home care to a variety of animals. So I wanted to upgrade my knowledge of animal health. I enjoyed the course and feel I have learned a lot. Beverley Bell, Australia, Animal Health Care course.

I thoroughly enjoyed my course and found it to be most comprehensive and thorough, encompassing all aspects of animal care both domestic and in the farming environments.
The course was clearly defined and simple to follow. Tutor's comments most helpful and understanding & constructive. Return of assignments within a short time assured continuance of interest.
I would recommend a course with A.C.S. to anyone considering undertaking one."
- Jo

What is in the Lessons?

There are twelve lessons as follows: 

1. Introduction to Animal Health Care

  • Scope and Nature of animal welfare and control
  • Understanding veterinary services
  • Veterinary code of practice
  • How to transport animals 

2. Common Animal Health Problems

  • Reasons for ill health in animals 
  • Animal injuries
  • Conditions
  • Food and nutrition problems
  • Problems caused by living organisms
  • Animal parasites
  • Common disorders with family pets
  • Ill health in dogs
  • Ill health in cats
  • Ill health with caged birds
  • Ill health with aquarium fish
  • Mice
  • Wild animals common conditions
  • Ill health with reptiles

 3. Animal Behaviour 

  • Understanding communication in dogs
  • Significance of scent
  • Understanding barking
  • Dog body language
  • Handling cats
  • Bird communication
  • Types of behaviour
  • Time orientation
  • Space orientation
  • Understanding territorial behaviour
  • Understanding aggression
  • Introduction to horse psychology

4. Signs (Indicators) of Ill Health

  • Vital signs as indicators of health status 
  • What is the healthy animal
  • Signs and symptoms of diseases
  • Recognising ill health
  • Diagnosing diseases
  • Taking smears and tissue samples
  • Diagnosing and controlling different types of diseases including
  • Viruses
  • Bacteria
  • Protozoa
  • Parasites
  • Mites
  • Fleas

5. Veterinary Facilities

  • The animal first aid kit
  •  Record management  for animals
  • Enclosures for animals
  • Environmental requirements

6. Safety Procedures when Dealing with Animals 

  • Understanding duty of care
  • How to handle heavy weights
  • Reducing your back injury
  • Protective equipment
  • Dealing with chemicals
  • Skin penetrating injuries
  • Risk categories
  • Separating animals
  • Disposing of dead or infected tissues
  • Dangerous non-animal wastes
  • Storage and handling of medicines
  • How to handle larger animals

7. Administration of Animal Health

  • Scope of animal insurance
    •Importing animals from one region or country to another
    •Managing a veterinary office
    •Using the telephone
    •Keeping records 

8. Animal First Aid Procedures

  • Types of wounds
  • Cuts on animals 
  • Punctures
  • Tears
  • Treating and cleaning wounds
  • Granulating wounds in animal tissues 
  • Stitching a wound
  • Bone and joint problems
  • Treating broken bones
  • Tendon injury
  • Understanding poisoning
  • Restraining animals during first aid
  • Restraining cats, dogs, horses, cattle, sheep

9. Preventative Health Care

  • Animal diet
  • Problem insect control
  • Using dips
  • Using vaccinations
  • Avoiding stress to livestock

10. Routine Health Treatments

  • De-sexing animals  
  • Castration or vasectomy
  • Spaying
  • Tubal ligation
  • Castrating cats
  • Castrating dogs
  • Pregnancy
  • Gestation periods
  • Using euthanasia
  • Anaesthesia and analgesia
  • Preparing an animal for surgery
  • Sterilising equipment
  • Castrating a colt

11. Health Problems in Domestic Pets

  • Burn injuries
  •  Infections of the urinary tract 
  • Shock
  • Electrolytes
  • Ticks
  • Health issues with reptiles
  • Fish problems

12. Care of Animals after illness -Rehabilitation 

  • Nursing animals through recovery
  • Planning recovery and rehabilitation


Course Duration is 100 hours of self paced study.



  • Contact several bodies/organisations that are concerned with animal welfare, and obtain any literature or other information which you can, regarding issues such as the following:
  • Restrictions placed by local councils upon the keeping of pets.
  • Legal requirements placed upon farmers or pet owners, with respect to animal welfare
  • Find two different types of domestic animals which you can observe (ie. different species).
  • Observe each on two different occasions, for at least 15 minutes each time.
  • Make notes of their behaviour.
  • Note any similarities between behaviour on the different occasions, and between the different types of animals.
  • Describe methods used for controlling/restraining animals during an examination
  • List as many things as you can that might cause a dogs' temperature to go to 40oC.
  • Contact a state government veterinary/agriculture department, and find out anything you can about health risks to humans from domestic & farm animal diseases in your country.
  • Try to determine what animals are the biggest threat; what diseases are a more serious threat, and what controls are in place to minimise such problems.
  • List any animal diseases which may be also contracted by man, which you are aware of?
  • Research exotic diseases in your country or region and take notes
  • Design a standard "Patient record" card/form for use by a general practice veterinarian.



  • To describe common health problems in various animals, including injuries & diseases.
  • To explain the natural behaviour of different types of domestic animals in different  situations.
  • To identify common signs of ill health in different animals.
  • To describe the purposes of different facilities used in veterinary practice.
  • To determine safety procedures for a veterinary practice.
  • To describe different administration procedures in a veterinary practice.
  • To describe/select first aid procedures/treatments for different animals in response to common health problems in animals.
  • To describe requirements for maintaining good health in domestic animals, including nutrition & preventative medicine.
  • To develop an understanding of routine treatments for healthy animals.
  • To develop a broader awareness of health problems and their treatment in domestic pets.
  • To develop skills in caring for animals prior to, during or after treatment 



A 100 hour course like this can  be a big step toward understanding animal health. The course was developed by animal sience professionals, including veterinarians and former university lecturers. It was originally structured to cover all of the same things covered in the veterinary nurses certificate (Australia, in the 1990's); but has since evolved; being expanded and revised routinely by animal experts in both the U.K. and Australia; to be more relevant to the world of today.

The course will not make you into a veterinarian (only years of full time university study will do that); but it will enlighten you; developing a heightened understanding and awareness of animal health and forming a foundation you can build upon throughout life; at work or home. 

When you learn the signs of ill health in different types of animals; you have a basis for observing, learning through those observations, reinforcing what you remember, and building an ever expanding repertoire of experiences that can be considered and applied to new situations as they are encountered.


What are the General Signs of Shock in Animals?

Shock is the physiological response to trauma or serious injuries, which is the failure of the peripheral circulation. Signs of shock include:

  • pale to white gums,
  • rapid breathing,
  • a drop in body temperature,
  • loss of energy,
  • high or low blood pressure and/or
  • unconsciousness

Sometimes the signs of shock can be confused with other conditions and the treatment for injury required can contradict that needed to treat the shock. 

For example: in the case of internal bleeding after an accident, if the animal is given drugs to improve blood flow to counter the shock, these same drugs can aggravate the internal bleeding.

It is very important to determine the cause of the shock and remove this cause (if possible). Try not to stimulate the animal any more than necessary. Handle the animal gently and try to keep it as calm and pain free as possible.


What are Signs of Internal Bleeding in an Animal?

It is extremely important that you seek expert veterinary advice ASAP if you suspect that an animal is suffering internal bleeding.  Internal bleeding can often follow an injury to the trunk of an animal or a sharp blow. Signs of internal bleeding include:

  • Pale or white mucus membranes (gums) – if you apply pressure to the gums they should return to their previous colour a few seconds after pressure has been removed.
  • Rapid respiration rate – panting
  • Lethargy, reluctance to walk, weak.
  • Drop in core body temperature


What are the Signs of an Animal being Poisoned?

Once the signs of poisoning have been observed, it is extremely important that you seek medical attention for your animal immediately as death can occur soon after symptoms are displayed.

Symptoms of poisoning can include excess salivation and tears, depression, lethargy, pallor, anaemia and weakness. 

Haemorrhaging may be observed through a bleeding nose, nervousness and apprehension, tense abdomen, violent seizures or convulsions (Strychnine and 1080 poisoning), initial restlessness, repeated defecation and urination (1080), hyperesthesia (over sensitivity to stimuli) and vocalisation.

Lead poisoning in farm animals may be indicated by damage to central nervous system. Cattle for instance, may stop grazing and can be dull and non-responsive. Cattle may also grind teeth, go blind, experience tongue paralysis and eventually become comatose.  Twitching may occur in conjunction with these other signs, especially around the face, ears and eyelids.






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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.