Did you know that there are 12.5 million pet dogs in the UK? This number spiked from 9 million the previous year. So if you’re a dog lover and want to turn that love into a business, now is a good time to do it. 

Many people treat their dogs like family and want to feed them the best, so starting a dog bakery is a great way to earn money from this market. If you combine a skill for baking with your love for dogs, you can create tasty treats for these pets.

This guide will cover how to start a dog bakery business, including: 

  • What you’ll need to get started
  • How to set it up 
  • How to organise it for success 
  • How to market your business to find clients 

What you’ll need to start a dog bakery business

The first step in knowing how to start a dog bakery business is to collect everything you’ll need to run it smoothly. We’ll cover the essentials. 

Market knowledge 

The first step in starting a successful dog bakery is knowing your market. Do some market research to understand the industry demand and look at similar businesses. Where are people typically buying their dog treats or food? Why do dog owners buy from small-scale dog bakeries? 

With a knowledge of the market and industry as a whole, you can get an idea of what people pay for dog biscuits and where to sell them. Plus, you can predict your business’s profitability. 

Understanding the industry will help you find an angle for your dog bakery. Why should people buy these dog treats? Many dog owners want what’s best and healthiest for their dog, and big-brand dog treats, such as the most popular Pedigree, often fill their treats with meat derivatives, sugars, and artificial colours or preservatives. So you may market your dog biscuits as a healthier, natural option. 

Then go a step further to ask yourself why dog owners might choose your dog treats over other small business dog bakeries. For example, maybe you’re dedicated to being sustainable or locally sourced. 

Dog bakery skills 

To create profitable products for your dog bakery, you’ll need the skills to make those treats. If you don’t have prior experience, you may want to research baking dog treats and look into courses. For example, you could take a course on dog nutrition to better understand what’s healthiest. You could also look into accredited courses on dog dessert making

Aside from this, research dog bakeries in your area to see if they offer workshops. Then, look up some dog treat recipes and test a few out to get an idea of the process. 

Supplies and equipment

Alongside the right skills, you’ll also need to treat supplies. Depending on how much you want to produce, you could order from a grocery shop or find a vendor to maintain a supply of your recipe ingredients. 

You’ll also need the right kitchen supplies to make these treats, which might include:  

  • Mixing bowls 
  • Mixers spoons and whisks
  • Cookie sheets
  • Rolling pin 
  • Cookie cutters to shape the treats
  • Oven

On top of the necessities to make these treats, you’ll need packaging supplies to sell them in. 

A workspace 

Next, it’s crucial to have a workspace to make your treats. You may want to start your bakery from home, which can save you from the startup costs of renting a kitchen. Working in your kitchen can be great if you keep it clean and separate from your normal cooking. But over time, this may limit your production to a standard size oven. 

As your dog bakery grows, you could transition into renting a local commercial kitchen, which will allow you to produce more dog biscuits in less time. 

A place to sell them

Without a place to sell your dog treats, you won’t make a profit. With dog treats, you may not need a physical shop, though that may be a cool way to stand out from others despite the higher startup costs. 

So you may want to start by selling them from your home or online. You could sell them through your business website or create an Etsy store. With reliable shipping, you could 

A startup budget

Once you understand what you need, you can determine your startup costs, including supplies, equipment, marketing, and licensing or registration. With these costs in mind, outline a budget for starting your dog bakery business. This budget will help you know how much money to save for getting started and focus your money on success.

Learn more about budgeting for starting a business here

A business plan 

Putting together a business plan is the last step in prepping for your dog bakery. With this plan, you can outline your angle, purpose, necessary tools, research, and expenses. Also, use it to develop your business’s short, medium, and long term goals. This plan will help you organise yourself for a successful start and progress with purpose. 

How to set up your dog bakery business

The next step in starting a dog bakery business is understanding the administrative steps to get your business going. There are a few key things you’ll need to do before you can start selling your dog biscuits or food.  

Registration and licensing 

First, you’ll need to register as either a sole trader or a limited company to start a small business. As a sole trader route, you’ll be personally liable for your business, whereas with a limited company, it’s a separate legal entity. 

On top of this, register your animal feed business with the Food Standards Agency and your local Trading standards Office, ideally 28 days in advance. Then, if you bake from home, run it by your mortgage provider or landlord and inform your local council. 

Tax

If you decide to set up a limited company, you’ll need to report and manage your own taxes. These taxes will likely include income tax, dividend tax, national insurance. It could also consist of corporation tax or VAT. Learn more about the taxes small businesses pay here.  

Insurance 

Insurance can protect you from financial risk. Public liability insurance will cover you if your business is found liable for injuries or damages. You may also want to insure your product supply if it’s lost or damaged. On top of this, product liability insurance could protect you if your dog biscuits lead to harm or illness. 

Health and safety regulations 

It’s important to follow UK government health and safety regulations for your dog bakery. Be sure to read up on and closely follow the legislation regarding pet food production. You may want to take an accredited food health and safety course to prepare yourself for a clean business. 

How to organise your dog bakery business for success 

Succeeding in your dog bakery business also requires strong organisation. We’ll cover the essential parts from your contacts to your finances. 

Product list and prices 

Set up a product list or menu of the dog biscuits or food you offer when starting your business.  You can name each product and outline what type of dog they may be best for. 

Then, look at the typical pricing of small business dog treats and how much it costs you to make them. This information will help you price them correctly and ensure you earn enough profit margin. For example, if you spend £1 per treat, you may want to sell them at £1.5-£2 so you earn more than you spend. 

A payment system 

A payment system will help you charge your customers. If you sell online, you can set up a payment service through your website or Etsy shop. But, if you plan to sell in person, you could do cash-only or invest in a system like Square or Worldpay to take card payments. These services may charge you a small percentage per purchase, but they will make you more accessible to customers in an increasingly cashless world. 

Business management tools 

To organise your communications, calendar, and documents, you may want a business management tool like Google Workspace or Microsoft 365. These tools can help you keep everything in one place to stay on top of deliveries, events, and customer or vendor contacts. 

Business current account 

Opening a business current account will help separate your business finances from your personal ones. It’s just like a regular bank account, just specifically made for businesses. As a result, you can keep more precise records of your transactions and earnings. You need these records for your financial accounting

Accounting software

To organise your dog bakery finances, you’ll need the right accounting software that saves you time and helps you understand your money better, like the Countingup app. Unlike most accounting software, Countingup combines a business account with accounting software, unifying your finances in one place. 

Countingup lets you track and label your business expenses with automatic expense categorisation. This feature helps you find proof of expenses you can reduce from your taxable income. Plus, the receipt capture tool reminds you to snap a picture of your receipt after making a purchase. With the stored poof, you don’t have to keep messy piles of receipts. 

The Countingup app lets you create, duplicate, and send unlimited invoices customised with your business logo. The app will then notify you when you receive the invoice and automatically match it to a payment, so you can better track your earnings. 

These features can streamline your bookkeeping process, but the app also generates cash flow insights to help you make better financial decisions. On top of that, with ongoing tax estimates, you can avoid surprises and plan ahead. Countingup is even MTD-compatible and lets you instantly share accurate data with your accountant. With tools like these, you’ll easily and accurately manage your finances for success. 

How to market your business to find clients 

The final step in setting up your dog bakery business is to market it effectively to find clients. With the right strategy, your client base will grow, and you’ll start to earn a profit. 

Branding 

Developing a brand identity is a great way to help your business stand out. Your brand is the consistent tone and design you present to the public, including a logo and colour scheme. Think about how your brand can represent your purpose and appeal to your target audience. For example, you may want to include dog elements in your brand design, such as paw prints. 

Your brand can help you build a positive reputation. You can also build a good reputation by asking customers for reviews of your treats and earning positive feedback on your Google business profile. Claim your profile here.  

A website 

A business website can help you market and sell your dog bakery products. Try to design your website, so it aligns with your brand identity. Also, be sure it has your business name, introduction, products, and contact information. You can add this link to your marketing materials and social media accounts to gain more traffic.  

Social media marketing 

Social media marketing is a great way to access new audiences who may be interested in your dog treats or food. You may want to use Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to share pictures of your dog treats and other fun, dog-related content. You could also encourage your customers to share and tag your business on their social media pages. This cross-promotion can help you reach new potential customers. 

Craft fairs and farmers markets 

Another way to find customers is by setting up a booth at local trade shows or farmers markets. By bringing business cards and a banner, you can earn sales and grow your audience. Plus, if people come across you at farmers markets and enjoy your products, they may tell others about you. 

Avoid a ‘ruff’ start, and organise your bakery finances with Countingup

Financial management can be stressful and time-consuming when you’re self-employed. That’s why thousands of business owners use the Countingup app to make their financial admin easier. 

Countingup is the business current account with built-in accounting software that allows you to manage all your financial data in one place. With features like automatic expense categorisation, invoicing on the go, receipt capture tools, tax estimates, and cash flow insights, you can confidently keep on top of your dog bakery finances wherever you are. 

You can also share your bookkeeping with your accountant instantly without worrying about duplication errors, data lags or inaccuracies. Seamless, simple, and straightforward! 

Find out more here.