Pets Have Needs Too

K, 1, 2

This lesson is based on key terms and vocabulary dealing with animal welfare  and animal care.  Concepts will be defined and discussed in a whole group setting.  Learners will compare their own needs to a pet's needs.

Lesson Rating 
PrintTwo 45 minute class periods

The learner will:

  • define the term Needs as something useful or necessary. Examples are food, water, shelter.
  • define the term Wants as items that a person/animal desires to have but it will not help them grow or stay alive.
  • define the term Animal Welfare as treating animals with kindness and respect.
  • demonstrate knowledge of pets' needs versus their own needs.
  • Items such as dog food, bowls, blankets, box, leash, etc.
  • Handout One: Vocabulary Assessment (Pre and Post test)
  • Magazines
  • Chart paper for definitions
  • Paper, pencils, glue, markers etc.
  • Handout Two: Venn Diagram: My Needs andWants anda Pet's Needs and Wants
  • Teacher's Resource: Animal Rights and Animal Welfare
Home Connection 

Ask the learners to share with their families what they have learned about pets during this lesson. If there is a pet at home, ask the learners, with the help of family members, to list what their pet(s) needs and how the family members help take care of the pet(s).

  • ASPCA Professional: service-learning opportunities with animals
  • Bix, Daisy. Buddy Unchained. 2006. The Gryphon Press. Edina, MN. ISBN-10: 0-940719-01-0
  • Verdick, Elizabeth Tails Are Not for Pulling. 2005. Free Spirit Publishing. Minneapolis, MN. ISBN: 1-57542-181-X


  1. Anticipatory Set Ask the learners to share ideas from the homework assignment to brainstorm with families a list of pet needs. Ask the students if they would describe it as a need or a want. For Example: If a learner suggests that animals need clean water every day, point out that water is one of a pet’s needs. If they say balls and toys for pets, describe those as wants.

  2. Either as a whole class or individually have the learners complete Handout One: Vocabulary Assessment. (The questions can be read aloud to the students.)

  3. On a large sheet of paper write the definition of wants and on another sheet of paper write the definition of needs. Post these in the room to refer back to during the class discussions.

  4. Show the class some items or pictures of items associated with pets. Discuss each item and how they are important for pets. As the learners decide if the item is a need or a want, make a display of the items that represent needs and a display of the items that represent wants located near each definition.

  5. Continue the discussion with the following questions:

    1. Do humans have needs, if so, what are they? (yes, food, water, shelter)
    2. Do you have wants? (Yes, video games, new clothes, going to sporting events, etc.)
    3. Can animals tell you all of their needs and wants? If so, how? (Yes, some dogs will go and get their leash or scratch on a door to ask to go outside, stand by their empty water bowl, gerbils hide when they want to be alone, cats meow when they are hungry).
  6. Define Animal Welfare as treating animals with kindness and respect. Ask: When we feed and give water to our pets are we acting with kindness and respect? Have students discuss what other “things” pets and people need/want that cannot be bought at a store. (family love and attention including time, care, touch, trust. Discuss with students if this is a need or want, and why. Accept all reasonable answers.)

  7. Draw or display the Venn diagram Handout One: Venn Diagram: My Needs and Wants and a Pet's Needs and Wants. As a whole class have the learners give examples and write them in the circles. The idea is to develop the concept that animals have many of the same needs and wants that humans have. (Pictures to represent needs can be drawn or cut from magazines for younger learners). Encourage them to brainstorm at least 3-4 items that could go in each part of the diagram.

  8. Give the learners Handout One: Vocabulary Assessment asking them to complete the activity again. Ask if they changed any of the choices.

  9. Pose the questions : Whose responsibility is it to take care of the pets we have in our homes? Allow time for the learners to share their thoughts.


The pre and post assessment handout will provide you with feedback concerning how well the learner has mastered the lesson objectives. The teacher may also evaluate the Venn diagram with 3-4 items in each part and observe class participation.

Cross Curriculum 

Read about the service-learning project called Helping Hounds by students who were taught using this Pets Have Needs Too lesson to guide student learning and action.

Ms. Eisenson is a 1st grade teacher who said, "by doing community service in school, students can then transfer new skills and ideologies independently outside the classroom." 

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.2 Explain the difference between wants and needs.


If the handouts are not at the end of the lesson instructions, and you are logged in, they may be missing. I will be able to address this in the morning.