Animal Welfare

Study an online animal welfare course. Learn about animal welfare - wildlife, pets and farm animals. All at your own pace and in your own time.

Course Code: BAG224
Fee Code: S2
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Learn about Animal Welfare

Do you have a passion for helping animals in need?

Back up your love of animals with a qualification and take that first step towards a career in the care and welfare of animals.

Having a knowledge of animal welfare will better equip you to convert your care and concern into a career. 

This is a solid introductory course which covers a wide range of Animal Welfare topics.

Learn about the following areas of Animal Welfare:

  • Animal Psychology and Sentience
  • Managing Animal Welfare
  • Animal Welfare Services -shelters and rescue centres
  • Animal Welfare for Pets, Work Animals and Animals in Sport
  • Animal Welfare for Farm Animals
  • Animal Welfare for Wildlife: Free and Captive



Lesson Structure

There are 9 lessons in this course:

  1. Scope and Nature of Animal Welfare
    • History
    • Definitions
    • Ethics
    • Physical functioning
    • Mental and cognitive functioning
    • Naturalness
    • Scope of animal welfare
    • Moral status
    • Indirect theories
    • Direct Unequal theories
    • Moral equity theories
    • Ethical theory
    • Kantian theory
    • Virtue theory
    • Humean theory
    • Utilitarian theory
    • Rights theory
    • Capability theory
    • Animal rights
    • Arguments against animal rights
    • Animal Welfare today
    • Animal slavery
    • Conservation and wildlife research
    • Entertainment
    • Animal testing and research
    • Other significant global issues​
  2. Psychology and Sentience
    • Sentience
    • Sapience
    • Anthropomorphism and transference
    • Compassionate conservation
    • Sense and perception
    • Cognition - attention, memory, spatial cognition, reasoning and insight
    • Animal emotion - in primates, felines
    • Animal psychopathology - depression, stress, eating disorders
    • Activity anorexia
    • Over eating, Under eating, weight loss, pica, coprophagia, thin sow syndrome
    • Behavioural disorders
    • Compulsive behaviour
    • Lick granuloma
    • Stereotypies (Zoochosis)
    • Sentience influence on behaviour
  3. Managing Animal Welfare
    • Duty of care
    • Assessing animal welfare
    • Preventing disease and injury
    • Health checks and observations
    • Importance of nutrition
    • Providing water
    • Exercise and Stimulation
    • Appropriate safe environment
    • Controlling pest and disease
    • Veterinary Prevention
  4. Animal Protection Services
    • Protection organisations
    • Types of protection activities
    • Companion animals
    • Protection of farm animals
    • Wildlife
    • Understanding Health Issues
    • Pathogens - Viral, bacterial, fungal protozoa
    • Parasites - ectoparasites, endoparasites
    • Fleas, lice, ticks, mites, nematodes
    • Genetic disorders
    • Pet breeding
    • Metabolic and nutritional disease
    • Inspecting animal health condition
    • Temperature, pulse, respiration
    • Signs of ill health
    • Differential diagnosis
  5. Animal Rescue Services
    • Introduction
    • Shelters
    • Health and welfare
    • Basic needs of animals
    • Animal first aid - aims, types of wounds (cuts, punctures, tears), treatments
    • Infection
    • Blood loss
    • Fly control
    • Bone and joint problems - sprains, broken bones, bone infections, Nutritional Bone diseases
    • Luxations
    • Tendon injury, Contusions, torn ligaments
    • Poisoning - chemicals, grazing, other
    • Restraining animals during first aid
    • First aid for wildlife
  6. Animal Health Services
    • Animal health services
    • Routine health treatments
    • Vaccination debate
    • Quarantine
    • Euthenasia
    • De-sexing
    • Complimentary health services - homeopathy, naturopathy, tactile therapies, natural nutrition, acupuncture, etc
    • Employment
  7. Animal Welfare for Pets, Work Animals and Animals in Sport
    • Welfare of companion animals
    • Work animal welfare
    • Welfare of animals in sport
  8. Animal Welfare for Farm Animals
    • Farm animal welfare
    • Intensive farming
    • Pigs
    • Cattle
    • Poultry
    • Organic farming
    • Welfare during transport
    • Animal slaughter
    • Animal welfare labelling
    • Welfare issues with animals bred for alternative products - down, wool, foie gras, etc
  9. Animal Welfare for Wildlife: Free and Captive
    • Zoos and wildlife parks
    • Circus animals
    • Pet trade
    • Free wild animals
    • Habitat destruction
    • Protecting from hunting and trapping
    • The land and marine environments
    • Legislation
    • Codes of practice
    • Animal behaviour
    • Environmental law enforcement
    • Case studies

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Describe what is meant by animal welfare and how it can be implemented in society.
  • Explain how animals might perceive the world, their sense of awareness and cognition, and how welfare can influence their mental health.
  • Describe how animal welfare is assessed and upheld.
  • Describe what animal protection services are available and what their roles are.
  • Describe animal rescue services and how they contribute to animal welfare.
  • Describe what animal health services are available and their benefits to animal wellbeing.
  • 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.

Pet Welfare Issues are more common than you think…


Animal protection and rescue organisations are largely aimed at dealing with issues relating to domestic pets. While there are still far too many cases of deliberate pet abuse, a large majority of pets suffering is not through intentional abuse. Many pet owners simply do not have the knowledge or resources to provide their pets with the care they need.

Animal welfare services provide several career opportunities for people wishing to make a positive difference in the welfare of pets ranging from 'on the ground' jobs such as Animal Welfare Inspectors or Rescue Officers to 'behind the scenes' jobs such as Marketing and Fundraising.

Animal Health and Welfare

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 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.  


What is needed to succeed in an Animal Welfare career?

Many people who care about animals contemplate turning this passion into a career. Having a passion and love for animals is important, but if you are considering a career in Animal Welfare, education and experience will provide you with the necessary knowledge and skills to work in this industry.

The Animal Welfare industry presents harsh realities that you should be aware of:

  • The work is often physically hard.
  • The emotional roller-coaster you will ride is even harder.
  • You may need to work in harsh weather conditions e.g. extreme heat or cold.
  • It is not a financially favourable industry.

But, if you are passionate about experiencing the incredible joy that comes with ending an animal’s suffering and educating people to make real changes, then Animal Welfare is the industry for you.   


Where might this course take you?

Most people are familiar with Animal Welfare jobs such as Animal Shelter Staff and Animal Welfare Inspectors, but there are plenty more jobs where studying our course might take you…

  • Rescue Officers
  • Pet Resort Attendant
  • Pet Trainer
  • Office Staff
  • Emergency Phone Call Operator
  • Ambulance Driver
  • Animal Rehabilitator
  • Pet Sitter
  • Dog Walker
  • Animal Groomer
  • Animal Technician Assistant
  • Animal Carer
  • Veterinary Assistant
  • Community educator
  • Community Support Program Worker
  • Retail e.g. Pet Store Attendant
  • Volunteer

If you are looking for a course that has been specifically designed to provide you with work-ready skills for jobs in animal welfare, get started on your career path today!


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ACS is a Member of the Complementary Medicine Association.
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ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.
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Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.

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