Learn online, study animal welfare with self paced learning, learn about first aid for animals and animal rescue in this online course.

Course Code: BAG224
Fee Code: S2
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Learn to Care For Animals

  • Pets, Wildlife: captive and free

We all have animals in our lives. For many, we live with pets. Apart from pets though, there are the birds we hear when we wake in the morning, and an occasional glimpse of other wildlife seen moving through our garden.

All the animals around us, seen and unseen; are integral parts of our environment.

To remove animals from our environment can often cause unknown repercussions to the balance of nature, and ultimately to our own well being.

Lesson Structure

There are 9 lessons in this course:

  1. Scope and Nature of Animal Welfare
  2. Psychology and Sentience
  3. Managing Animal Welfare
  4. Animal Protection Services
  5. Animal Rescue Services
  6. Animal Health Services
  7. Animal Welfare for Pets, Work Animals and Animals in Sport
  8. Animal Welfare for Farm Animals
  9. Animal Welfare for Wildlife: Free and Captive


  • To understand what is meant by animal welfare and how it can be implemented in society.
  • To explain how animals might perceive the world, their sense of awareness and cognition, and how welfare can influence their mental health.
  • To describe how animal welfare is assessed and upheld.
  • To describe what animal protection services are available and what their roles are.
  • To describe animal rescue services and how they contribute to animal welfare.
  • To describe what animal health services are available and their benefits to animal wellbeing.
  • To explain how animal welfare is implemented in the protection of pets & companion animals, work animals and animals in sport.
  • To explain how animal welfare is implemented in the protection of farm animals.


When an animal’s health is at risk then it is important for the owner or carer to seek veterinary assistance, if not then this can become a welfare concern.  Again, if the welfare of the animal is under consideration, then this may have effects on the overall health of the animal.  
To ensure the health and welfare needs of an animal are met to a satisfactory standard then it is important to think about the following factors:

  • The animal(s) should be fed an appropriate diet, and fresh drinking water should be available.
  • Clean, adequate housing and shelter for protection.
  • Right to exercise, or move freely within an enclosure and exhibit natural behaviours. 
  • Live free from pain, suffering, injury or disease.  
  • Live free from fear and mental suffering.

Animals which are not having their needs met or which are in imminent danger may need to be rescued. 

Animal Needs

An appropriate diet should be fed to keep the animal in optimum health as many health issues can arise from feeding the wrong or inappropriate diet.  An example of this is Guinea Pigs as they, like humans, cannot synthesize vitamin C within their bodies and require this within their diet.  If fed a similar food, such as rabbit mix, then this does not contain enough added vitamin C resulting in Scurvy, a vitamin C deficiency.  Likewise, cats should not be fed dog food as it does not contain a high enough protein level and cats require an essential amino acid known as taurine.  A safe clean environment should be provided for any animal with adequate shelter to protect them from the weather extremities which can cause health issues.  Extreme heat may lead to sunburn and heatstroke, extreme cold may lead to hypothermia.  The environment should be safe with no areas which may cause injury or entrapment.  They should also be kept safe from predatory species and be protected from any dangers, such as roads or rivers.  

Any animal should be free to express natural behaviours and exercise accordingly, this will allow the animal to keep fit and reduce any stress levels.  Mental stimulation is also important to stop boredom, resulting in a healthy, happy animal.  

If an animal is in pain and is suffering then it should be seen by a veterinary surgeon.  If left to continue on with an existing injury then this would lead to distress, and may also lead to secondary infections.  If an animal is suspected to have an infection or disease, then it is vital that the animal gets diagnosed and treated by a vet to prevent further suffering. 

Any animal should be able to live without distress and fear. If the treatment and conditions as prescribed in the above principles is not met, then the animal is likely to experience mental suffering.

Education on welfare policies, practices and programs is readily available so people working with animals can readily access information on nutrition, veterinary care, animal handling techniques, socialisation and environmental enrichment for their animals. People working with animals can learn how to identify and evaluate signs of animal health and welfare such as energy levels, appetite, and coat and eye condition. There are even scientific methods to assess stress levels by measuring the level of cortisol in the animal’s blood.

There are numerous laws and regulations; and associated governing bodies, both at domestic and national levels, pertaining to animal welfare. For example, national laws governing the wellbeing of zoo, circus and marine animals; humanitarian farm animal slaughter; welfare of laboratory animals, commercial animal breeding and many more exist in various forms throughout the world. There are also a multitude of local regulations worldwide pertinent to the keeping of animals. Animal rescue organisations vary across the globe and it is them who enforce that animals should be kept to a satisfactory standard.  Generally, the level of animal welfare is considered adequate if animals seem to be content, and the caregivers are demonstrating best practice.  If an animal is not receiving treatment or not living to an acceptable standard, and is suffering, then they may enforce the animal is signed over and kept in their care to be diagnosed, treated, hopefully recover and be re-homed.  It is the role of any owner, or carer, of any animal to ensure the health and welfare needs are met.  A carer is anyone who is looking after or working with the animals, but may not be the owner.  A carer may refer to veterinary staff, animal shelter staff, zoo keepers, farmers and pet sitters.  



Animals inhabit our environment - whether urban or rural landscapes, gardens or wilderness; wherever we live, we share our environment with animals; and in doing so we have an ethical responsibility apart from anything else to understand and give appropriate consideration to the welfare of those animals.

Our gardens are sustained by the animals we find there. Without the insects, birds and other animals, pests could easily get out of control, fruits and vegetables would not pollinate, and the garden would cease to function as we know it.

Pets inhabit many of our gardens. If we cater to their welfare properly, we can create an environmental balance; but if we don't dogs can destroy our plants, cats can kill the bird life and the garden environment can gradually degrade.

Understanding and providing for the welfare of animals is crucial to sustaining the environment we live in.

Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

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