Do You Need a License to Sell Dog Treats? Regulations You Need To Know About Selling Homemade Dog and Cat Treats

Is the dog bakery business regulated? Do you need a license to sell dog treats? We’ll answer all these questions and more in this article.

Note: If you click some of the links in this article we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Do You Need A License To Sell Dog Treats?

Yes, you need a license to sell dog treats. First, you are required to have a business license for your state. Second, you need to check if your state or city requires you to have a manufacturing license and a commercial kitchen. Third, your facility may need to have a formal inspection. Fourth you will need to register for a sales tax license in each state and locality you intend to sell in. This makes online selling difficult as there are far more sales tax localities than there are states. Lastly, you need to check if your state or city requires registration of each dog treat recipe you create and intend to sell.

See our complete list state by state of all licensing and registration requirements below.

What Is The AAFCO?

The Association of American Food Control Officials (AAFCO) is a private non-profit association. It’s a voluntary group of local, state, and federal that meet together to share knowledge across state borders on the regulation of pet foods and pet medicines.

The AAFCO is not a regulatory agency and does not regulate pet foods, pet medicines, or pet food businesses. They are headquartered in Champaign, Illinois.

They maintain a database and map of state feed control officials so you can quickly find answers to all your pet food regulatory questions.

The AAFCO assists states and local regulators by providing guides and models to help them form the regulations concerning pet foods.

Definition of Pet Food and Dog Treats

Pet foods are comprised of plant or animal matter that are intended for pet consumption.

Why is this important? Because pet treat labels are regulated and have requirements.

While dog training businesses and pet walking businesses aren’t regulated, pet food businesses are.

If you plan to manufacture food for pets be sure to follow all applicable pet food label requirements. The major ones are highlighted below.

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Dog and Cat Treat Label Requirements

FDA Pet Food Label Requirements

The FDA requires that you send a sample of each type of dog treat to a feed lab for a guaranteed analysis. The analysis will tell you the percent fat, moisture, protein, and other components that make up your pet treat.

With that information, you can begin designing your label. The FDA requires the following on your label:

  • A clear description of the product
  • Quantity of individual pieces inside
  • Name and Address of the business or manufacturer
  • List of all ingredients based on the weight from most to least

For example, let’s say you made the following pumpkin dog treats using this recipe:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

To make the label you simply need to list them out in order from greatest to least by weight:

Pumpkin Spice Dog Treats

Ingredients: flour, pumpkin, eggs, peanut butter, spices

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The FDA and Health Claims

Health claims on pet food labels are monitored by the FDA. Some health claims have specific guidance on the data you need to collect to prove your claim.

For example, pet foods that claim to help a pet’s urinary tract must provide data to back that up according to guidance document CVM GFI #55.

State Pet Food Label Requirements and Registration

Some states regulate pet food’s manufactured and sold there. The fastest way to find out if your state has these regulations is to check the AAFCO map.

In addition to labeling requirements, some states require you to register your pet food with their local department of agriculture. To do that you may need a guaranteed analysis from a pet feed lab, an ingredient list, and possibly other items.

Each state is different. We’ve compiled a table of all state regulatory requirements.

State Regulatory Requirements for Pet Food Businesses

Below you’ll find a comprehensive list of regulations on pet food businesses by state. Fees have not been included. However, if they require licensing, registration or inspections expect fees most times as well.

Check your State’s Department of Agriculture for details on fees, renewals, and other requirements.

The list below will tell you exactly which licenses and registrations you need to sell dog treats and pet treats in your state.

State Pet Food Manufacturing License Required? Individual Pet Food Registration Required? Inspections Required?1 Inspection Frequency
Alabama Yes No Yes Quarterly
Arizona Yes No Yes Quarterly
Arkansas Yes No Yes Quarterly
California Yes No Yes Quarterly
Canada Yes No No None
Colorado Yes No Yes Annual
Connecticut Yes No No No
Delaware Yes No No No
Florida Yes No Yes Quarterly
Georgia Yes Yes No No
Hawaii Yes No Yes Quarterly
Idaho No Yes No No
Illinois Yes Yes Yes Semi-Annual
Indiana Yes Yes Yes Quarterly
Iowa Yes Yes Yes Semi-Annual
Kansas Yes Yes Yes Semi-Annual
Kentucky No Yes Yes Quarterly
Louisiana Yes Yes Yes Quarterly
Maine Yes Yes No None
Maryland No Yes No None
Massachusetts No Yes No None
Michigan Yes No Yes Semi-Annual
Minnesota Yes Yes Yes Annual
Mississippi Yes Yes Yes Annual
Missouri Yes Yes Yes Quarterly
Montana Yes Yes Yes Annual
Nebraska Yes No Yes Semi-Annual
Nevada Yes No Yes Quarterly
New
Hampshire
No Yes No None
New Jersey Yes No Yes Annual
New Mexico No Yes Yes Quarterly
New York Yes Yes No for <100 tons, Yes above Annual
North Carolina No Yes Yes Quarterly
North Dakota Yes Yes Yes Annual
Ohio Yes Yes Yes Semi-Annual
Oklahoma Yes No Yes Semi-Annual
Oregon Yes Yes No None
Pennsylvania Yes No Yes Annual
Puerto Rico No No Yes Quarterly
Rhode Island Yes Yes No None
South Carolina No Yes No None
South Dakota Yes No Yes Annual
Tennessee Yes No Yes
Texas Yes Yes Yes Quarterly or Annual
Utah No Yes No None
Vermont No Yes No None
Virginia Yes Yes Yes Annual
Washington
State
Yes Yes Yes Semi-Annual
West Virginia Yes Yes Yes Semi-Annual
Wisconsin Yes No Yes Annual
Wyoming No Yes No None

Notes:

1 – Most inspections have fees per ton of product inspected. See your state for details

Last Updated: 2020 – Check your local State regs for updates – https://www.aafco.org/Regulatory/State-Information

Sales Tax License Or Permit

Most states require a sales tax license to sell in that state. Often your county or city will require this as well. You’ll need to check your city, county, and state tax departments to see if you need this or not.

Sales tax can be quite complicated. If you are going to sell online we recommend doing one of the following:

  • Find and consult a tax professional! This article is for information purposes only! We don’t know everything and can’t legally advise you. Sales tax is crazy complicated. Get help.
  • Sell through Amazon and get tax help to make sure Amazon’s is collected all necessary state and local taxes. For each area you collect sales tax, you’ll have to register with that government entity and pay those taxes directly.
  • Use TaxJar.com. They can monitor your Amazon or your own website’s sales, tell you how much you owe and to who, and even give you pre-filled forms to easily submit and pay your sales tax.

Wholesale Distribution

Wholesale distribution gives you a path to skip sales tax. Instead of registering for sales tax in every state, you simply sell your treats through a wholesale distributor.

They pass it along to retailers. Then at that level, the retailer pays the local sales taxes.

This is also a great (and often only) way to get your products into lots and lots of brick-and-mortar physical stores around the country.

This is a great option to diversify yourself from being too reliant on any big players like Amazon, Chewy, or Etsy.

FAQ

Do Dog Treats Have To Be FDA Approved?

No! You don’t need FDA approval for each to treat you create. The FDA would be overwhelmed by this!

Instead, you do need to use FDA-approved ingredients. From there you can make anything to your heart’s desire. See an explanation of safe foods and additives on the FDA website here.

Do You Need A Commercial Kitchen To Make Dog Treats?

Maybe! It depends on your state. Many states require you to get a license for your manufacturing facility. Each license will have different requirements.

We made a table showing all states’ registration and licensing needs. You can scan that above. If your state requires licensing for manufacturing then call your State’s Department of Agriculture to find out exactly what they require to get licensed.

Yes, you may need special equipment but you may not. The list includes Puerto Rico and Canada.

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Do I Need To Register My Home Kitchen With The FDA?

Absolutely not. You may need to register it with the state though. See the answer above as well as a table of all the State’s requirements. Use the AAFCO website to google your State’s Department of Agriculture to get the details you’ll need to follow.

Do I Need a Website?

Not at first. We recommend focusing your marketing locally and selling through platforms like Etsy and Amazon.

Check out our article on starting a dog treat business and using Etsy as your initial sales platform.

In time you can start a website and sell direct. You’ll get higher profit margins but the conversion rate won’t be as great as what you’d get with Etsy or Amazon.

When you are ready to start a website we recommend going with Bluehost.

Bluehost has a great beginner plan for $3.95 a month (click here to check the current price). It’s where we start all our new websites. That’s our affiliate link and we may make a small commission at no cost to you if you sign up.

We also recommend you use tools like lean domain search, bustaname, and gsheetdomains to help you find brandable URLs that are available to purchase.

Then when you find one you like also check that it’s available to register in your state through your Secretary of State’s website. Lastly, check that it doesn’t have any trademarks at the US Patent and Trademark’s website.