Making and selling dog treats is a business with a low budget start-up. It is what is called a "kitchen table" enterprise. But as with any business, there are laws and regulations that companies must follow. Federally, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates human and animal food. Federal laws supersedes state or county laws, but each state may have additional requirements, which vary by state. There might be particular stipulations specific county or city. The best place to start is with your local county government for finding out about selling and making dog treat regulations in your area.
Dog food and treats are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. This act basically states that pet food must be safe, pure and wholesome to eat. It must be produced under sanitary conditions, contain no harmful ingredients and be honestly labeled. There is no stipulation that the FDA must preapprove a product before it can be sold in the United States.
State and County Rules
Individual state departments of agriculture might, of course, have additional rules to those of the federal government. By checking with your county government, you can learn exactly what regulations exist at the lowest government level on up, regarding the making and selling of dog treats. For example, some states require that dog food or treats be prepared in a commercially licensed kitchen, while other states do not. If you live in one of the states with this requirement, you will need to follow that rule. If you do not live in such a state, you may make dog treats in your home kitchen.
The federal government only requires that product labeling is honest, but your state might have additional stipulations. For example, in Oregon, pet food with meat requires a special license and labeling. But for dog food that does not contain meat, the labeling must state "not for human consumption." If your dog treats are sold in other states, they must adhere to that state's labeling regulations. Even though labeling rules may be sketchy, it's a good idea to list the ingredients on packaging, as some dogs have food allergies. Make certain to state that the dog treat is a snack, how it may be used and that it does not contain the dog's full daily nutrition requirements.
If the regulations for making dog treats in your area are not feasible or affordable for your new business, consider purchasing dog treats wholesale and reselling them. Many wholesalers allow private labeling. This means you are allowed to make up a label and package the dog treats in your own manner. Of course, you still must follow any federal, state and local regulations. Most of the time, you are also required to mention the name of the wholesaler as the manufacturer. Double check that the wholesaler follows all the dog treat rules and regulations before buying the product.
Besides obtaining the correct license to operate a commercial kitchen, if required in your state or county, you might also need to obtain a business license. Check with your local planning department to ensure that you can operate a business out of your home if that's your plan, because the land may not be zoned for home-based businesses of this type. Check these regulations before launching this business, as you may need to rent a space in an area with the proper land-use designation if you cannot work from your home.