Animal Welfare

Learn how to assess and manage animal welfare and gain an understanding of animal protection, rescue and health services. All online from the comfort of your own home.

Course Code: BAG224
Fee Code: S2
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Are you ready to embark on a career in Animal Welfare?


Learn about Animal Welfare or advance the career you have already started

It is one of the most popular passions – to work in a role where you are helping animals. In the past, careers in this industry may have been ‘few and far between’ but now, the animal care industry is booming. There has never been a better time to convert your passion into a reality, with the last decade seeing an increase in job numbers and greater variety of jobs in this field. Globally, animal welfare concerns are being increasingly recognised and addressed across a multitude of industries, from wildlife to captive animals, from domestic pets to farm animals. The world is becoming more aware – now is the time to make a difference.

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, 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.
  • Explain how animal welfare is implemented in the protection of farm animals.
  • Explain how animal welfare is implemented in the protection of wild animals in their natural environments and in captivity.

Wildlife Injuries

Injuries to wildlife are predominantly as a result of human action:

  • Cat/dog attacks – millions of wild animals every day are killed or injured by free-roaming pet cats and dogs. Pets should either be kept indoors or in an enclosure as wild animals will usually avoid the pet’s territory.
  • Car hits – millions of wild animals are killed or injured by being hit by a car. Avoid collisions by paying attention and driving according to the speed limit. 
  • Window collisions – birds may fly into windows if they see a reflection of the outside environment off the glass. This can be avoided by placing something on the outside of the glass to fragment the reflected image so that it looks like a smaller area and the bird will hopefully not attempt to fly through it. 
  • Attacks on windows/shiny objects – birds may attack their reflection thinking it is a competitor and cause themselves injury. Applying soap to the surface of the object will subdue the reflection.
  • Chemical poisoning – the toxic chemicals in pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and biocides are responsible for the slow, painful death of thousands of wild animals every year. These effects may be reduced by restricting the residential use of such chemicals and substituting such chemicals with organic products.
  • Swimming pools – Wild birds and small mammals can get stuck and drown in swimming pools. Pools should be fenced and applying a pool cover when not in use will prevent animals becoming trapped.

First Aid for Wildlife

The first aid basics for wild animals are essentially the same as the first aid treatment for domestic animals; but the circumstances surrounding the need to administer first aid to wildlife is very different. 

In contrast to farm animals, zoo animals and pets, the only time that a wild animal experiences physical contact with another species is as part of predator-prey relationship. It is, therefore, extremely stressful and terrifying for wildlife to come into contact with humans. In order to minimise the animal’s stress and give it the best chance of survival the following should be considered:

  • Remain very quiet when handling an injured wild animal – DO NOT “comfort” it by cuddling it, gently patting it or talking to it as this will frighten it even more and may even cause sudden death. 
  • Take special care when transporting the animal in order to prevent further injury.
  • The animal should be kept warm and in the dark away from noise e.g. in a cardboard box.
  • Be prepared to provide temporary housing for the animal until it is in the hand of experienced carers.
  • After first aid treatment is applied, the animal should be taken to a veterinarian as soon as possible as the animal may have additional internal injuries that are not obvious. 


Upon finding an injured wild animal, first consider the safety of yourself and the animal:

  • Assess the situation you are faced with and remove any further threats to the animal or yourself.
  • If the animal is on a road, ensure you are parked in a safe place off the road.
  • If necessary, flag down another driver to assist by stopping or diverting traffic while you attend to the animal.
  • If applicable, confine domestic animals away from the scene to prevent further stress to the animal.
  • Exercise caution that the animal does not bite you.


  • Check if the animal is breathing.
  • If the animal is breathing, roll it onto its side so that the mouth and nose are facing down and the head and neck are lengthened to drain the airway and allow a clear flow of air.
  • If the animal is not breathing, open its mouth and check for any obstructions that may be preventing breathing e.g. blood, vomit.


  • If the animal is unconscious, position it so that its head is higher than the stomach to avoid choking.


  • Stop arterial bleeding with a pressure bandage that is not too tight that it will impair the animal’s breathing.
  • Keep the animal in a quiet location without interruption to facilitate clotting of any minor internal bleeding.

Body temperature

  • Keep the animal warm by placing it in a soft fabric without holes such that the animal does not get caught up in it e.g. a towel.
  • Place the animal gently into a box in a dark, quiet, uninterrupted location


Never feed an injured wild animal unless instructed by a trained carer. Many wild animals have highly specialised diets and they may become ill or die if they consume certain foods.

Contact help

After the application of first aid treatment and the animal is stabilised, the next very important step is to seek advice from a veterinarian or wildlife rescue centre. The animal has a much greater chance of survival and rehabilitation if it is passed on to trained carers as soon as possible as they can provide:

  • Specialised dietary requirements in appropriate quantities and feeding intervals.
  • Additional treatment that is not necessarily obvious to the untrained eye.
  • Specialised environmental needs, such as: heating, a perch, or bedding.
  • A specialised recovery and rehabilitation plan.

Do not try to keep the animal as a pet – the biological characteristics, such as territorial and social behaviours, specialised diets and housing requirements, of wild animals are very different to domesticated ones and, accordingly, they make unfavourable pets.

And….it is illegal, with heavy penalties applicable, to keep wildlife as pets without a permit!


After your studies…

There are numerous opportunities for working in the field of Animal Welfare whether its working with domestic animals, wildlife, captive animals or farm animals.

If you are specifically interested in working with wildlife, studying Animal Welfare may assist you to work in the following jobs:

  • Wildlife Rehabilitator
  • Animal Hospital Carer
  • Community Educator 
  • Trainer in Caring for Wildlife
  • Animal Shelter Attendant
  • Animal Rescue Organisation Office Staff
  • Wildlife Researcher
  • Fundraiser
  • Animal Hospital Ambulance Driver

So what are you waiting for?

This Animal Welfare course is designed to fit around your life... You can start whenever you want; You can work entirely at your own pace; There are no deadlines for assignment submissions. Study as little or as often as suits you!



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