Gourmet Dog Treat Labels
A Guide to Label Requirements

The gourmet dog treat option - Gourmet dog treat labels are outlined below for those who are considering starting a dog treat bakery. And even if you aren’t starting your own bakery, understanding what your gourmet treat baker knows, may help you make more informed choices. If you are the designer of your own treats, we hope this section will be very helpful.

So you want to start your own gourmet dog treat business. Dog treat bakeries are becoming a booming business. Getting started can be very easy. You need some ingredients, some way to package or ship your products, and you need some basic kitchen equipment. Follow this link for our how to “bake a gourmet dog treat” basics page.

But after you have your treats, there are some things that are required by law before you can sell your dog treats. You need to know what to put on your gourmet dog treat labels.

Since dog treats are intended to supplement a dog’s diet, and not be the source entire of a dog’s nutritional intake – all of the stringent requirements for dog food manufactures do not impact treat makers. For instance, if you are making dog food, you must conduct feeding trials for several months to years to confirm that your dog food will adequately sustain dogs. For the gourmet dog treat baker, you simply need to have adequate labeling for your product. Product claims such as all natural and organic are often INACCURATELY made about dog treats. Make sure you are properly labeling your treats and not making any claims that are accurate about your products. Check out our page on all natural claims for dog snacks - what's missing on gourmet dog treat labels.

This is where there are minimal expectations for dog treats. Our expectations (having been in the people food industry) are much higher than what is required in the dog treat industry. Be assured that all of the treats that we make are labeled according to PEOPLE FOOD LABELING REGULATIONS. We would encourage you to do the same.

When you have your product, you will need to provide on your label:

Product name

Ingredient statement (a list of all of the ingredients ** see our notes below)

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 %

The protein, fat, moisture and fiber information will need to be obtained by sending your product out to a lab for analysis. This series of tests at a lab facility is called a proximate analysis. When we do our proximate analysis, we also request the Ash content. This allows us to calculate the approximate number of calories (kcal) in our treats. You are not required to do this, but it could be helpful for your customers.

The cost for this test varies usually runs about $40, plus shipping costs. If you need a rush on these tests, most labs can do it for a much higher cost.

That Ingredient Statement

With regard to the ingredient statement, this is where we disagree with what is allowed today. Below we explain what most folks are doing, and how it is different than the people food industry.

Most gourmet bakers simply list the ingredients from the recipe. This is not an actual ingredient statement. What do I mean? Here is an example. Let’s say that your gourmet dog treat recipe has the following ingredients:

1 cup Wheat flour

1 egg

¼ cup of chicken broth

Most bakers will list their ingredient statement like this on their gourmet dog treat labels:

Wheat flour, eggs, chicken broth.

And, most baker’s will call this “All Natural”.

However, if this was for human consumption, it would not be allowed to be called “All Natural”. Many of the flavors and chemical in this product are not considered “all natural” by the FDA or USDA (food and meat industry government agencies). And, ALL of the ingredients would need to be listed. Chicken broth is NOT a single ingredient. It has many MANY things that are in it. For instance, if you used Swanson’s chicken broth in your gourmet dog treat, this is actually what is in your treat:

Wheat flour, eggs, and chicken broth (chicken broth, salt, monosodium glutamate, dextrose, flavoring, hydrolyzed soy protein, carrots, hydrolyzed corn protein, celery, onion, chicken fat, sugar, disodium guanylate, autolyzed yeast extract.)

Now, all of these ingredients are fine for people to eat, and probably fine for your customers’ dogs. But you may not want to feed your dog monosodium glutamate (MSG) if you yourself don’t eat it. The same may be true for your customers. If you don’t let your customers know that the chicken broth you use has MSG, then how will they be able to make an informed decision for their beloved pet? Again, the requirements today for gourmet dog treat labels would allow you to simply list “chicken broth.”

OUR POSITION: The regulations around the gourmet dog treat labels are lacking and may in fact be contributing to the rise of dog obesity. We would recommend that if you are able, listing EVERYTHING in your treats, including the ingredients in your cheeses, broths, applesauces and peanut butters.