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Duration (approx) 600 hours
Qualification Certificate

Learn about supporting the health and well-being of pets.

  • Study for a career in pet care or welfare.

  • An extensive course covering animal health, diseases, nutrition and genetics providing a solid foundation in the care of pets.

  • ACS offers flexibility to suit you - start when you want and study at your own pace and with full tutor support.






Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the CERTIFICATE IN PET HEALTH CARE VAG035
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 2 of the following 5 modules.

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Work in Pet Care or Welfare.

  • This course is designed to provide a foundation for a career that is focused on providing products or services that support the health and wellbeing of pets.

  • You may work in an animal shelter, kennel, cattery, pet store or in the supply of some other type of goods or services for pets.

  • Course Duration: Approximately 600 hours of self paced studies. You may undertake this over as little as 3 months, though students more commonly study this over 1 to 2 years on a part time basis.



Other modules may be accepted as alternatives to either Genetics or Animal Behaviour; if you feel something else offered may be more appropriate to you in one of these areas. Please contact the School for further details.

Heart Problems Can Affect all Types of Pets

Heart disease can be just as much of a problem for dogs, cats and other animals as what it is for humans.

Inherited genes can make some breeds of animals more susceptible to heart problems, just as it does with humans, but lifestyle factors, diet and stress can also have an impact.

Animals that get adequate exercise, eat healthier and are not overly stressed, will be less susceptible

When problems develop, some may be treatable, but others may not be so readily dealt with.

More common heart problems may be categorized as follows:

  • Congenital Heart Defects (e.g. hole in the heart, narrowing of  valve )

  • Mitral Valve Disease, involving a degeneration of the mitral valve and leaking of blood (a common heart disease in dogs)

  • Pericardial Effusion involving fluid accumulating in the heart

  • Cardiac Arrythmias - slow or fast heart beat rhythms.

  • Cardiomyopathies (i.e. Heart muscle disease)


Heartworm is a parasitic worm called Dirofilaria immitis. It is a small, threadlike nematode that infects a variety of animals. The worm is spread via an intermediary host; the mosquito. The worms initially develop inside the mosquito and eventually lodge themselves in the insects salivary glands, where they are transmitted to another animal when the mosquito bites.  The worms then grow for a few weeks at the site of the mosquito bite under the skin and then migrate to the animal’s chest and abdomen, finally attaching to the infected animal’s pulmonary artery and right side of the heart, where they grow into adults.  It takes approximately 7 months from the time of initial infection for the worms to reach their adult stage; adult worms vary in size from 20-30cms long. They then mate and produce young ‘microfilariae’, which can circulate in the infected animals bloodstream for up to 2 years, before they are picked up again by a mosquito, to continue their life cycle.

Animals Affected – A variety of animals including dogs, cats, horses, ferrets, foxes and wild bears.

Signs and Symptoms – Loss of weight, listlessness, exercise intolerance, nosebleeds and coughing- sometimes bringing up blood.  Pneumonia is a possible secondary complication due to inflammation in the lungs and pulmonary vessels. In cases of severe infection, sudden death caused by a heart attack is possible.

Traditional Treatment – Treatment is usually two-fold – ‘adulticide’ drugs (usually derivatives of arsenic) are initially used to kill off the adult heartworms in the animals system, and then followed up with anthelmintic drugs (e.g. Ivermectin), to kill off the circulating microfilariae.  Initial treatment can be dangerous, as the dead adults can clog up the animals heart and arteries, so is carried out under close monitoring by a vet. Prophylactic drugs can also be used to prevent infection in the first place. Trying to limit an animal’s exposure to mosquito’s will also help.

Natural Treatment - Various herbal heartworm treatments are available.  Most contain Garlic, Liquorice, Hawthorn and Sorrell. A prophylactic homeopathic nosode (or ‘vaccine’) is also available to prevent heartworm infection.

Congestive Health Failure

Short Description – Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) can result from heart defects present at birth, heart valve disease, or damage from an infestation of heartworms. CHF occurs when the heart is unable to pump sufficient blood around the animal’s body, which results in tissues and organs not receiving the oxygen and nutrients that they need to function correctly. Blood becomes backed up in the lungs and an increase in blood pressure occurs.  This causes fluid to leak out of the capillaries and the lungs become congested. Lack of oxygen in the body tissues triggers various hormonal responses, which aim to relieve the problem by conserving fluid in a bid to increase circulating blood volume and output of blood and oxygen from the heart, which will help relieve the condition in the short term. In the long term, this increased fluid retention will cause even more congestion and fluid to leak out of the capillaries, worsening the problem.

Animals Affected – Any animal; commonly seen in dogs.

Signs and Symptoms – Coughing and gagging are the most commonly seen symptoms. Coughing may be worse overnight, as fluid pools in the tissues when the animal is lying down. Breathing may become laboured, even when the animal is ‘at rest’. Exercise intolerance, lack of appetite and subsequent weight loss and general lethargy are also common signs. The animals abdomen and limbs may become enlarged, due to fluid retention.

Traditional Treatment – There is no cure for CHF. Drug treatment is administered to reduce the pooling of fluid in the body tissues and organs, improve the heart’s pumping efficiency and to reduce the hearts work load.  Often CHF patients are on multiple medications, and close monitoring by a vet is essential.

Natural Treatment -Herbal medicine and nutritional therapy may help to combat Signs and Symptoms of CHF. Hawthorn, mistletoe and rosemary have been advised to help improve heart function. Antioxidants may also provide some positive responses.


You can start the course at any time.

It 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.


The Certificate In Pet Health Care requires around 600 hours of study. This is made up of six 100-hour modules.

To pass the course –

  1. Pass all assignments on the six 100-hour modules. There will be an assignment at the end of each lesson to submit to your tutor for marking and feedback.
  2. Pass six examinations – one on each module. These are usually taken at the end of the module and can be arranged at a time and location to suit you.


At ACS we provide you with more than just a set of course notes.

Your 'learning package' includes:

  • Course notes.
  • Self-assessment quizzes.
  • Assignment feedback.
  • You can interact one on one with a professional tutor with decades of experience - just email, phone or log on to chat to connect with them.
  • Depending upon your course, your studies may involve independent research, interviews, practical exercises, assessments, Problem Based Learning projects, and more.



Register to Study - Go to the "It's easy to Enrol" panel towards the top right-hand side of this page and select your payment and study method options.


If you have any questions about our courses, please get in touch today. Use our FREE COURSE COUNSELLING SERVICE and connect with our tutors. They will be more than happy to answer your questions.

Learn from our experience.


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.
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.

Check out our eBooks

Animal PsychologyExplore how animals think and comare how this differs between different animals (and humans)
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.
Starting a BusinessBusinesses don't need to fail! This is concise, easy to read, and alerts you to all of the things that commonly make a difference to business success or failure. Seven chapters are: “A Reality Check”, “The Product or service”, “Managing a Business”, “How to Find Customers”, “How to Make a Sale”, “Delivering the Product or Service”, “Pitfalls to Avoid”.
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.