Manufacturing Homemade Pet Treats
Manufacturing homemade pet treats can be a fun and exciting business venture. Whether you are simply making and selling pet treats on a small-scale at local farmer’s markets, craft fairs and trade shows, or you are setting your sights a bit higher and opening a pet bakery or selling pet treats online, out of your house or at retail pet food locations, you will find enjoyment and pride in producing and distributing a quality pet treat that you have made yourself. However, getting into the pet food (which includes treats for dogs and cats) business means complying with all local, state and federal regulations that apply to such a business.
Where to begin?
The best place to begin is to visit the Association of American Feed Control Officials’ (AAFCO), The Business of Pet Food web page. Here you will find all of the basic information that you will need to begin your pet treat business. This will also be a very helpful resource if you decide, now or in the future, to distribute your pet products into other states, as each state’s regulations are a bit different.
How do I start and operate a Wisconsin-based business?
For answers, information and advice on starting a business in Wisconsin, including choosing a business structure (Sole Proprietorship, Limited Liability Company, Corporation, etc.), tax information, permit requirements and other regulations, visit the State of Wisconsin’s Business Wizard web page.
Do I need a license?
A Wisconsin Commercial Feed License is required to manufacture or distribute pet food or pet treats in Wisconsin.
New Commercial Feed License Application Packet - 7 page PDF
The packet contains an informational letter, license application and other supporting documents and information.
For more information on feed licensing and tonnage, call (608) 224-4537 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Am I required to have a commercial kitchen?
In most cases, you are not required to have a commercial kitchen to make pet treats. You can make these products in your own home as long as they can be manufactured in a manner that prevents them from being unsafe. This includes making them in a kitchen that is clean and in good repair, and that is adequate to manufacture a product that is manufactured, processed, packaged, stored and distributed in a manner that prevents adulteration (contamination) and misbranding (falsely labeled). Be sure to contact your local municipality to ensure that there are no local rules that apply.
Are there any labeling requirements?
The required labeling for pet treat products is relatively simple. Here are the requirements:
- The Words “Dog Treat”, “Dog Snack”, “Cat Treat” or “Cat Snack” - The product must be identified as a “treat” or “snack.” If the product is not clearly identified as such, a statement of nutritional adequacy (stating that the product is adequate as a complete diet and meets all nutrient requirements as such) is required. This wording can be incorporated into the product name.
- Brand Name (if any) and Product Name - the brand name identifies the manufacturer/distributor/licensee (YOU). For example: My Brand, Inc. The product name identifies the type of product and the species for which the product is intended. For example: Yummy Dog Treat.
- Guaranteed Analysis - a guaranteed analysis is required on all pet treat labels. This includes:
- A minimum guarantee for Crude Protein
- A minimum guarantee for Crude Fat
- A maximum guarantee for Crude Fiber
- A maximum guarantee for Moisture
A commercial laboratory can help you determine the label guarantees for your product(s). Here is a list of laboratories in Wisconsin that conduct feed analysis:
Wisconsin Feed Testing Laboratories:
- Commercial Testing Laboratories, Inc. - 514 Main St., Colfax, WI 54730
Phone: (800) 962-5227
- Covance Laboratories, Inc. - 3301 Kinsman Blvd., Madison, WI 53704
Phone: (608) 242-2712 EXT. 4170
- Dairyland Laboratories, Inc. - 217 E. Main St., Arcadia, WI 54612
Phone: (608) 323-2123
- Rock River Laboratory, Inc. - 710 Commerce Dr., Watertown, WI 53094
Phone: (920) 261-0446
- UW Soil & Forage Analysis Laboratory - 8452 Mineral Point Rd, Verona, WI 53593
Phone: (715) 387-2523
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection does not endorse or recommend the use of any particular laboratory over another.
- Ingredient Statement – an ingredient statement listing the names of all ingredients used to make the treat, in descending order by weight, is also required. Ingredients should be stated using their common name.
- Name and Principle Mailing Address of the Manufacturer/Distributor - your name (as it is stated on your Wisconsin Commercial Feed License) or a registered Doing Business As (DBA) name (as it is stated on your Wisconsin Commercial Feed License) is required, along with your business address (as stated on your Wisconsin Commercial Feed License).
- Declaration of Net Quantity - there must be a quantity statement on your product label that includes the weight of the product. The weight must be expressed in both pound units and metric units. For example: Net Weight: 2 lbs (907.2 g).
To view examples of pet treat labels click here Example #1 or Example #2. For More information on Pet Treat Manufacturing, Labeling, Distributing and Wisconsin Feed Law information, call 608-224-4539 or email email@example.com.
The following products are exempt from the above labeling and licensing requirements unless the manufacturer, labeling or advertising makes any claim that the product is intended to provide anything of nutritional value:
- Pet chews (made of animal skin or hide, wood or man-made material)
- Animal Bones
Do I need to submit completed product labels for approval?
We do not require yearly registration of individual products. However, we do request copies of all labels for products distributed by new licensees, and copies of labels for new products sold by existing licensees. We review the labels to ensure they comply with Wisconsin requirements.
Send labels to:
WDATCP - Feed Program
2811 Agriculture Drive
P.O. Box 8911
Madison, WI 53708-8911
Or email labels to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where can I find Wisconsin feed regulations?
The regulations for the manufacturing, labeling and distribution of pet treat products can be found in Chapter 94.72 of Wisconsin Statutes and in Chapter 42 of Wisconsin Administrative Code.
For more information on manufacturing, labeling and distribution of pet food and pet treats, call 608-224-4539 or email email@example.com.