Your Pet’s Ecological Pawprint


Have you ever considered the links between owning a pet and conserving biodiversity? This set of activities will deepen understanding of the environmental impacts of pet ownership, generate questions about responsible pet ownership, and inspire students to think about how our love of pets might be extended to love of the millions of other species on the planet.

10 - 60 mins.

Modular lesson choices that facilitates classroom activity as brief as 10 minutes or up to a class period.


Middle School Life Science, High School Biology, AP Biology, Environmental Science, AP Environmental Science, College Environmental Science, Natural Resources, Ecology, Forestry, Conservation Biology, Environmental Studies, Molecular Biology, History, Social Studies, Language Arts

You will need:

Printed Paper maps

Digital map files

Online half-earth map

Your Pet’s Ecological Pawprint

Learning Objectives

  • Explore the relationship between pets and our natural environment, and evaluate data about the environmental impact of the human population magnified by our pets and domesticated animals. By analyzing data, they also will consider scientific evidence on the ecological costs of pets.
  • Activities aim to inspire critical thinking and build skills in data evaluation and application.

Key Terms + Conditions

  • Biophilia
  • Ecological impact
  • Pets and biodiversity
  • Student engagement with authentic research data
  • Conservation strategy

Top tips for Instructors

This podcast from “Stuff to Blow Your Mind” discusses Edward O. Wilson’s biophilia hypothesis and explores arguments for and against this human connection to nature and the environment.

This article from the American Kennel Club summarizes impacts of pet ownership and offers sustainable solutions to “Reduce Your Dog’s Carbon Pawprint,” like healthy diets and proper waste management. 

This article from the US Census Bureau summarizes how sales of pet care services doubled between 2007-17, totalling of $5.8 billion. This report from the Pet Industry Joint Council further details the economic impact ($221 billion annually) of the US pet industry.

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