Learn online, study pet care, pet nutrition and pet health, with self paced online foundation courses in pet care.

Course Code: AAG100
Fee Code: S1
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Learn about different types of pets, how to care for them, and lots more.

A pet dog can, over the course of it's life, cost it's owner tens of thousands of dollars in such things as food, grooming costs, vet bills, housing, and kennel fees (when you go on holidays.

Different pets live for different periods of time, and have different costs attached to keeping them.

Choosing the right pet for the situation at hand is where it all begins.

Whether you are doing this course for personal reasons or professional reasons; if you are dealing with pets on a daily basis (one or many), you will be better equipped for the tasks that you encounter, by learning more and learning it properly.  Some people may think problems can be solved by referring to books or  web sites when you need to know something; but an education in pet care does give you something else. Learning involves getting the important knowledge embedded in your long term memory; and developing a familiarisation with all things concerning pets -so much so that it becomes "second nature" for you to notice things, and formulate responses to problems, in a way that would not be possible without having made a serious study of the subject.


Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction to Animal Care
  2. Cats
  3. Dogs
  4. Birds
  5. Fish
  6. Rabbits
  7. Reptiles and Amphibians
  8. Guinea Pigs, Hamsters and Mice.


  • 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.

What You Will Do

  • This course involves reading things, but also doing things beyond just reading and writing.
  • You can learn a lot, for example, while studying this course, by observing a range of different animals, whether your own pets or elsewhere. Some animals such as reptiles, may be difficult to observe at certain times of the day or year; and others you simply may not have access to. This isn't a problem though. You can observe videos of animals on the internet when necessary. Where you can though; try to observe living animals.
  • When you read something about a type of animal, then do some research, make some observations, or visit somewhere (eg. a pet show or pet shop); your learning takes on another perspective and is strengthened. You can then submit an assignment, ask questions of your tutor and get feedback from an animal expert.
  • This course will become a holistic experience, where you encounter different types of pets and different information in a whole range of different contexts. As you do so, your understanding of pets will develop and strengthen.


It's important to choose a pet that suits where you live -for the wellbeing of the animal, as well as the benefit of yourself and your property.
A mismatch of pet and home can create many problems.

  • Big dogs can destroy small gardens, but small dogs can live quite happily in a garden not much larger than a courtyard, provided they are taken for a walk regularly.
  • In the wrong location, cats can threaten wildlife, but in the right place they can control vermin.
  • A bird aivary and fish pond or chicken coup can add interest to some gardens, but may be inappropriate for one reason or another elsewhere.

Whatever species and breed of pet you are dealing with, certain general needs always need to be satisfied, including:

  • Food
  • Water
  • Shelter
  • Health Care

Food Requirements
All animals need sufficient food, of both the right type and at appropriate intervals. This varies a lot from animal to animal.

Understanding food types that animals need is critical, as is an understanding of differing food requirements at different stages of their life.  To ensure good health, only supply 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.

Nearly all animals must have regular watering, some having higher water needs than others. 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.  

Caging and fencing can serve a number of functions. This includes:

  • Containment - ensuring you pet/s don't escape.
  • Shelter - providing protection against the elements.

Protection needs to be both against other animals (predators), and to protect other animals and people from your animal/s (e.g. snakes, aggressive dogs).

Any cage or fenced enclosure needs the following features:

  •  Size - enough to cater for the animal’s needs
  •  Strength – sufficient to contain the animal, to keep other animals out and to withstand the local weather conditions
  •  Safe - no sharp edges, or protruding parts, ensure materials aren’t toxic to the animal (treated timbers, rusted metals, asbestos sheeting etc).
  •  Position – providing shelter for the animal and being securely fixed into place
  •  Access - for cleaning, providing food and water. Access should be secured to prevent escape.   

It is crucial that any containment area is regularly checked over and maintained properly.

Maintaining Health
Good hygiene is critical. This includes such things as maintaining food and water quality, cleaning out wastes regularly, and controlling pests and diseases. Regular preventative measures for controlling pests and diseases are vital. 

How Will You Benefit?

  • Learn to care for one or many animals
  • Maintain healthier, happier animals to reduce pet care costs (veterinary and other)
  • Indulge your hobby or passion for pets
  • Fast track business or employment opportunities in dogs
  • Save time -don't waste time and money traveling to classes
  • Control when, where and how fast you study
  • Make better decisions about their management and care
  • Build networking connections with the pet industry, and become more aware of opportunities

Employment Prospects

  • Pet shops
  • Kennels and Catteries
  • Dog walking
  • Pet Grooming
  • Pet training
  • Animal rescue
  • Pet products -leashes, dog food, etc

Business Opportunities

  • Buy or start up your own
  • Part time or full time
  • Low start ups may include pet day care, or a market stall
  • Grooming or training
  • Manufacture or buy in products to sell at online or at local markets. People who love their pets will pamper them. Your business opportunities are only limited by your understanding of pets and your ability to imagine ways an owner might pamper them.

Course Contributors

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

Kara Wight - BSc (Applied Bioscience and Zoology), HND (Animal Care), HND (Photography & Imaging)

Kara gained an HND in Animal Care and graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Applied Bioscience and Zoology. She has a wide range of experience working with animals such dogs, small pets, birds, zoo animals, British wildlife and reptiles. Kara

Peter Douglas

Over 50 years experience in Agriculture and wildlife management.
Former university lecturer, Wildlife park manager, Animal breeder, Equestrian.
Peter has both wide ranging experience in animal science, farming and tourism management, and continues to ap

Alison Pearce

University Lecturer, Quality Assurance Manager, Writer and Research Technician. Alison originally graduated with an honors degree in science from university and beyond that has completed post graduate qualifications in education and eco-tourism. She has m

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