Pet Care (Different Types Of Pets)

Course CodeAAG100
Fee CodeS1
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment


ACS Student Comment: Undertaking research reinforces learning, and it makes me learn more than I would on the course notes alone. The tutor’s comments are very useful. He also provides links to interesting materials relative to my course. Lana Hurley, Australia, Pet Care course.

This is a great course for pet owners or anyone working with pets. This course provides a sound introduction to caring for a wide variety of different pets including dogs, cats, fish, birds, rabbits, rodents, reptiles and amphibians. Examined within the course are aspects of pet care such as ideal diets & food, care of coats, feathers, hair etc, enclosures such as tanks etc, care of litters and young animals and more. Pet Care is designed as an introductory course for those seeking to work with animals in positions such as vet nurses, animal welfare and animal rescue.


This course is designed as a first step toward working with pets or other animals, whether as a career  or volunteer (eg. Vet nursing or animal assistant, animal rescue or welfare services). 



Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction to Animal Care
    • Laws and licenses
    • Animal Charities and Societies (eg. RSPCA, WSPA, Blue Cross)
    • Pet Care Needs (feeding, Watering, Shelter, Containment, Fencing, Caging, Protection)
    • Maintaining Health
    • Hygiene
  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.
  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, etc.
  4. Birds
    • Bird Selection
    • Breeds (eg. Canaries, Finches, Budgerigars, Small Parrots etc)
    • Sexing, Desexing, Containment (Aviaries –selection, design, size, management)
    • Feed, 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 (eg. Abscesses, Alopecia, Apoplexy, Aspergillosis, Breathlessness, Constipation, Parasites)
    • Safety in the Home
  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)
  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, Myxomatosis, Sore Hocks, Pasteurellosis, Ear Canker, Heat Stroke, Cannibalism, Calicivirus Disease)
    • Care of sick rabbits, etc.
  7. Reptiles and Amphibians
    • Types (eg. 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 (eg. Dehydration, Stress, External and internal parasites, Blisters, Scale Rot, Mouth Rot or Canker, Colds/pneumonia, Constipation and diarrhea
    • Cannibalism,Incomplete sloughing of the skin -shedding of the skin)
    • Feed and feeding, General Care,
  8. Guinea Pigs, Hamsters and Mice
    • Varieties, Selection
    • Containment
    • Sexing, Breeding
    • Grooming, Feeding, Watering
    • Illness (eg. Skin Problems, Abscesses, Mites, Ringworm, Fleas, Respiratory Infection, Vitamin C Deficiency, Otitis, Salmonella, Stripping etc)

What You Will Do

  • Develop timetables for husbandry tasks to be undertaken over a typical week, caring for a specific breeds of animals (several, but your choice)
  • 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 & restrictions for keeping different types of animals as pets in your locality
  • Discuss the advantages/disadvantages of keeping different types of cats
  • Understand why is it particularly important to have cats desexed; and when should desexing 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 dogs 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 should a small bird 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 the 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 & 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 & healthy amphibians and reptiles.
  • Explain how you determine the sex of a guinea pig, and at what age do they reach sexual maturity
  • Explain the temperature guinea pigs should be kept at, and what happens if the temperature drops
  • Explain the feed & 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 & disease problems associated with mice.



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.


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

Any caging or fenced area should have the following features:

Size - sufficient 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. Examples include spraying cages/shelters, regular worming treatments, vaccinations, flea and tick treatments, regular inspections for signs of problems in the animals yard as well as on the animal itself, regular grooming and dental care, and quarantining animals that are suspected or known to have pest or disease problems can significantly reduce the likelihood of problems occurring, and minimise their spread when they do occur. Regular veterinary check ups are important, to detect any conditions that may otherwise go unnoticed.

It is important that animals receive adequate opportunity for exercise to avoid them becoming overweight and unhealthy. Many smaller pets thrive on human contact and it is necessary to spend time interacting with them, playing, wrestling or during grooming.

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