Best practice for pet treats
Starting a pet treats business
Best practice tips for dehydrated pet treats
Across the globe, there’s a growing number of pet owners wanting a better food experience for their precious fur kids. Combined with recalls for some pet foods and a growing interest in being able to identify ingredients to feel secure about product safety, this means it’s a great time for starting a premium dehydrated pet treats business.
Whether you’re looking to create a product for sale through mainstream supermarkets and pet stores, selling through markets, or direct via website sales, there’s a lot to consider.
In this blog, we’ll take a look at some of the factors you can consider including:
- What base ingredients to use
- Dehydration timelines
- Preserving methods
- Packaging materials
- Regulatory compliance
Furthermore, an important thing to consider when making pet treats is food safety and hygiene. If you are also making food for human consumption, you may need to set up separate kitchens with dedicated equipment.
Choosing your base ingredients
Customers are looking for pet treats for training, snacks or just as a supplement to other foods to treat their loved furry friend. Just like the demand for “clean foods” for humans has grown, so too has the market for pet treats that are free of preservatives, sweeteners, additives and other fillers.
This creates an opportunity for small scale producers like you to capture part of the market.
There’s a wide variety of foods that can be suitable for pet treats.
For example, for dogs,1 this can include:
- Meat-based products, including organ meats, for example dehydrated chicken breasts, animal liver, pig ears, salmon skin and much more.
- Various fruits and vegetables,2 for example dried apple, green beans and sweet potato.
Of course, it’s important with treats to see them in the context of a pet’s broader diet. That’s why lower calorie choices like dehydrated sweet potato treats can be a great option, especially for training where you might want to use several to reinforce positive behaviour without worrying about over-feeding a pet.
For cats, meat-based treats are best. Dehydrated fish products are especially popular with our feline friends. As carnivores, they just aren’t designed to eat fruits and vegetables!
And, there’s scope for feathered friends too. Poultry like chickens love dehydrated meal worms as a treat.
When sourcing your meat, you’ll need to check what rules and regulations apply in your market – and the market you are planning to sell in – about what is suitable for animal consumption. Of course, you may like to differentiate your product from mass-produced brands by focusing on higher grade products. Many pet owners are prepared to pay a premium for pet treats that are made from ingredients that are suitable for human consumption, with only the best being good enough for their fur-babies.
Of course, it’s also vital to ensure that you are using foods that are safe for animals. For example, some foods that are fine for humans, like chocolate and grapes, can make dogs very sick, even leading to death.
The Association of American Animal Feed Control Officials,3 which is also the association most Australian pet food businesses follow, says ingredients must be officially defined animal feed ingredients, be approved additives, or be Generally Recognised as Safe (GRAS) additives. All ingredients should be listed on the packaging, using the AAFCO defined name. Care should especially be taken with ingredients that may be used as dietary supplements for humans as these may not be considered safe and approved for animal consumption.