Dog Treat Regulations

We continue to get many questions on what the dog treat regulations are with regard to making dog treats at home. Some of the questions that we get are:

1. Do I need a business license?

2. Do I have to have inspections at my home to bake dog treats?

3. Do I need to submit my labels for approval before selling dog treats?

Unfortunately there isn’t a set of dog treat regulations that everyone can follow as the regulation of dog treats falls to the individual states. Each state has its own dog treat regulations. Many of the requirements are very similar as most states tend to follow the guidelines suggested by the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials).

The purpose and function of the AAFCO is stated as follows:

“The purpose of the corporation shall be to establish and maintain an Association through which officials of any state, dominion, federal or other governmental agency and employees thereof charged with a responsibility in enforcing the laws regulating the production, labeling, distribution, or sale of animal feeds or livestock remedies may unite to explore the problems encountered in administering such laws, to develop just and equitable standards, definitions and policies to be followed in enforcing such laws, to promote uniformity in such laws, regulations and enforcement policies, and to cooperate with members of the industry producing such products in order to promote the effectiveness and usefulness of such products.”

The AAFCO is to help develop standards and help define policy, but not to regulate or govern. The responsibility of regulation for any animal feeds including dog treat regulation falls to the individual states.

So in an effort to help guide you here is what we do know for certain:

• You will need an EIN or tax identification number from the federal government for tax purposes.

• You may need to file an article of incorporation pending your state’s regulations in order to get your business license. The folks at your local county / city offices should be able to help guide you through that.

• You will need a business license from your local town, city, or county jurisdiction.

• You will need to make sure that there are no zoning laws that prohibit you from selling dog treats from your home.

• You will need to submit each treat that you sell for a lab analysis (guaranteed analysis) – and the results must be displayed on your label. If the ingredients in your treats change – it is considered a different treat. Each unique treat must be tested.

• Check with your state’s department of agriculture – as this is the state governing agency for dog treats. They may require that you submit a sample of your label along with a product registration form and product registration fee (often $40 to $60 per unique treat often due annually).

• Some states may require that you submit a processing plan that includes a description of your process, equipment, sanitation procedures and even rodent control efforts. This is not universal – again and is only required by certain states. Please check with your state for the specifics. If you are in a state that does require a processing plan submission you can email and let us know and we can update this page. We are in Maryland – Maryland does NOT require a processing plan submission or home inspection.

• Some states may require that you operate in a commercial kitchen to make dog treats for sell. Again – this is state specific, so follow up with your state’s department of agriculture. Again, if you would like to share your experience – we would be happy to post that info here! Maryland does NOT require a commercial kitchen to produce dog treats.

• All dog treats are required to have the following information on their label:

• Product name

• Ingredient statement

• Net weight (minimum weight of your package)

• Your Bakery contact info (name, address, phone number)

• Minimum crude protein %

• Minimum crude fat %

• Maximum moisture %

• Maximum crude fiber %

Hopefully this has helped clear up some of your questions on what to do to get started with your treat business. Your department of Agriculture should be able to guide you to your specific state's requirements. Follow this link for more information on dog treat regulations and legal stuff for starting your own dog treat business.