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Public Education Educator Resources Ecology of Dog Food 6-8

Learning Objectives

  1. Students shall be able to locate nutrition labels.
  2. Students shall critically analyze typical ingredients found in many dog foods compared to the nutrients a dog naturally needs.
  3. Students shall construct a food web and use it to then complete an energy pyramid.
  4. Students shall know and be able to compare and contrast the different types of organisms present in ecosystems.
  5. Students shall know and model how energy flows through an ecosystem.

Grade Levels

National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Practices Addressed

  • Asking Questions and Defining Problems
  • Developing and Using Models
  • Planning and Carrying Out Investigations
  • Analyzing and Interpreting Data
  • Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking
  • Middle School Specific: Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for the role of photosynthesis in the cycling of matter and flow of energy into and out of organisms. MS-LS1-6
  • Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for the effects of resource availability on organisms and populations of organisms in an ecosystem. MS-LS2-1

Materials Needed

The Ecology of Dog Food Sheet

Access to internet-enabled devices (computer lab, laptop carts, personal phones, etc.)

Copies of dry dog food nutrition labels (at least 2 labels) that include the ingredients list. You can also find nutritional information online. Considering using the following websites:

Blue Buffalo


Royal Canin

Nature’s Recipe




  • The student sheet can be used as the initial instructional delivery tool, or it could follow teacher-given instruction and be used as not only a case study, but also a review of energy within ecosystems.

**If used as the former, ample reference material should be provided by the teacher. This may include textbooks or internet-enabled devices such as phones, tablets, or computers.
Explicit Instruction/Teacher Modeling

  • Given student characteristics, teacher should provide the appropriate amount of scaffolding, especially when students are constructing their own food webs and using that information to complete the energy pyramid.

Independent Working Time

  • Students should complete the Ecology of Dog Food sheet.
  • Analyze which dry dog food brands contain the “best” ingredients for the “best” price. Make sure students define “best” and discuss their choices.

Review and Closing

  • Have students share their work and H determine which brand of food they would buy for their dog and defend their choice with evidence.


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