Lesson Plan Ideas

Lesson Plan Image

Economics of Pet Ownership


  1. Calculate the expenses associated with owning a pet.
  2. Understand what it means to estimate.
  3. Compare estimated and actual costs.
  4. Use multiplication and addition to calculate daily, weekly and yearly costs.
  5. Review the relationship between multiplication and addition.
  6. Calculate averages (pet life expectancy).
  7. Make bar charts.
  8. 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
Grade 5-6: Number Operations
Grade 4: Statistics and Probability (Data Analysis)
Grades 5/6: Statistics and Probability (Data Analysis)


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.

Group organization

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

Extension activities

After completing research and calculations, you could initiate discussion with questions such as: