Making and selling dog treats is a business with a low budget start-up. It is what is called a "kitchen table" enterprise. However, as with any business, there are laws and regulations that companies must follow. Federally, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) regulates human and animal food. Any federal law supersedes state or county laws. Additional requirements change from state to state. There might be particular stipulations within your state, county or city. The best place to start is with your local county government for selling and making dog treat regulations.
Dog food (and treats) are regulated by the FDA, under the FFDCA (Federal 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 labelled. There is no stipulation that the FDA must have pre-approval before it can be sold in the United States.
SDA and County Rules
The SDA (State Department of Agriculture) might, of course, have different additional rules to those of the FDA. By checking with your county government, you will learn exactly what regulations exist at the lowest level, on up, regarding the making and selling of dog treats. For example, some states require that dog food (treats) be prepared in a commercially licensed kitchen, while other states do not. If you are in one of the states with this requirement, you will need to follow that rule. However, if you are not, you may make dog treats in your home kitchen.
As stated, the FDA only requires that your labelling is honest. However, your state might have additional stipulations. For example, in Oregon, pet food with meat requires a special license and labelling. However, for dog food without meat, labelling must state "not for human consumption." If your dog treats are sold in other states, they must adhere to that state's labelling regulations. Even though labelling rules may be sketchy, it's a good idea to list the ingredients (some dogs have allergies). State that it is a snack, how to use it 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 labelling. 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 times, you are required to mention the name of the wholesaler as the manufacturer.
Another option would be to sell dog treats and have them "drop shipped" by the manufacturer if you are unable to make your own dog treats. This is a good option, especially if dog treats is a side business to a larger pet related business, such as dog walking, dog sitting or dog grooming. By having samples you can offer to dog owners, they can see the quality of the product and if their pet likes them. By drop shipping the product directly to them, you do not have to make space to store the merchandise. Of course, you will want to double check that the wholesaler is following all dog treat regulations.