Economics of Pet Ownership
- Calculate the expenses associated with owning a pet.
- Understand what it means to estimate.
- Compare estimated and actual costs.
- Use multiplication and addition to calculate daily, weekly and yearly costs.
- Review the relationship between multiplication and addition.
- Calculate averages (pet life expectancy).
- Make bar charts.
- Appreciate the commitment involved in getting a pet.
One reason pets are surrendered to shelters is that owners underestimate the costs of pet ownership. These exercises help students realize the cost of pet ownership and why pets are a long term commitment.
Curriculum Connection: Alberta Education Program of Studies
Grades 4: Number Operations
- Apply an arithmetic operation (addition, subtraction, multiplication or division) on whole numbers, and illustrate its use in creating and solving problems.
- Use and justify an appropriate calculation strategy or technology to solve problems.
Grade 5-6: Number Operations
- Apply arithmetic operations on whole numbers and decimals, and illustrate their use in creating and solving problems.
Grade 4: Statistics and Probability (Data Analysis)
- Collect first- and second-hand data, assess and validate the collection process, and graph the data.
- Construct bar charts.
Grades 5/6: Statistics and Probability (Data Analysis)
- Develop and implement a plan for the collection, display and interpretation of data to answer a question.
- Display data in a number of ways.
Start by brainstorming about pet needs as a class or in small groups. Include buying/adopting the pet, food, beds. toys, leashes, cages,vet visits. licenses. Have students distinguish between one time and annual costs. Ask students what they think it costs to own a pet. What type of pets are more expensive? Why?
Gather together a few cans/packages of pet food, litter, pet bed. pet toy, syringe or picture of a vet all with price tags. Pull out your props and have the students help you divide these into two piles: one-time and annual costs to help student understand the difference. Which ones will have to be multiplied to get total costs? Work through a few example calculations to review number operations.
Have students work in small groups.
Assign each group a different pet: gerbil, cat, dog, hamster, rabbit, guinea pig, mouse, etc.
Identify needs/calculate costs
Have each group identify and list all the things their particular pet will need. Students will need to estimate the cost of each item and how often it will be needed. They could use the BC SPCA Pet Care Cost Information or this could be a research project on the Internet or through phone call/interviews to pet stores, local veterinarians, shelters, pet supply catalogs, pet-care providers (such as boarding kennels, petsitters and groomers).
Problems to be solved
- What will you need to spend to get your pet? Include all the things you will need to make him comfortable and safe. This is called the “initial cost”. Estimate the initial cost before you calculate and then compare your estimate to the actual cost.
- How much food will your pet need? What is the monthly cost?
- Use the Cost Calculation Information to help orgaizae cost categories.
- Fill in the initial and monthly costs on the Pet Cost Chart.
- What is the life expectancy of your pet? Use the Pet Life Expectancy Information. What is the difference between the “range” and the “average”?
- Use the average life expectancy to calculate the total costs of owning your pet over his entire lifetime. Don’t forget to add in the initial costs. Estimate the total cost before you calculate and then compare your estimate to the actual cost.
- Share your information with other groups and make a bar chart comparing the lifetime costs of different pets.
- Have students calculate their own age at the likely end of their pet’s life. Will they still be living at home then?
- Create a poster about your pet, his needs and the costs of ownership.
- For advanced students, work out a formula to calculate the total costs of pet ownership, e.g. total costs =(annual costs x average life expectancy) + initial costs.
After completing research and calculations, you could initiate discussion with questions such as:
- Were you surprised at how much it costs to own a pet?
- Is it worth it to you? What are the benefits of pet ownership?
- What advice would you give to someone thinking of getting a pet?