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Best Dog Food for Pit Bulls + Pittie Nutrition 101

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Dog Food By Ben Team 9 min read June 4, 2021 6 Comments

best dog food for pit bulls

Pit bull puppies are some of the cutest critters in the world, and you’ll find that your new pup invariably becomes the center of attention anywhere he goes!

But if you want your cute little pit to grow into a beefy, beautiful beast, you must provide him with the vitamins, minerals and calories a growing dog needs.

Pit bulls are muscular, robust dogs, and they benefit more from foods that have higher protein content than most other dogs do.

The Particulars of Pit Bull Nutrition

Generally speaking, pit bulls have similar nutritional requirements to other active, working breeds. However, they do exhibit a few peculiarities which warrant attention.

Pit Bulls Are Stocky, But Not Necessarily Heavy

Pit bulls are stocky dogs with broad chests and blocky heads, but they rarely weigh as much as you would think by looking at them.

In fact, pit bulls rarely weigh more than about 75 pounds (although there are exceptions). While this is quite a handful of dog (particularly when it comes in such a high-energy package), they are best described as mid-sized.

best food for pitties

Since they’re truly medium sized dogs, it’s wise to avoid foods designed for large or giant breeds, as these foods often have reduced calcium and protein, relative to other foods.

Because they only reach moderate sizes, pits rarely run into the same problems large breeds do when fed normally formulated foods.

Avoid Overfeeding, As Pitties Are Susceptible To Joint Issues

We humans don’t always have the best food habits, and we may be inclined to indulge our pets like we might indulge in an ice cream sundae after a long day. However, as a responsible owner, you should always avoid overfeeding your dog.

This is especially important for pit bulls as they are susceptible to several weight-related health problems.

For example, many pit bulls develop dysplasia or the hips or elbows, and this is most common among dogs that are overweight. Overweight pits may also suffer from diabetes or arthritis, so be sure to keep their weight in the proper range.

Pit bulls also tend to have ravenous appetites, so you’ll want to measure their food carefully and keep the treats to a minimum. Don’t let those beggers convince you to feed them twice! Most adult pit bulls require somewhere between 800 and 1800 calories each day, but consult your veterinarian to determine your dog’s exact needs.

Watch Out For Food Gobbling!

The gusto with which pit bulls feed can cause them to swallow significant quantities of air with their food.

In a best-case scenario, your dog will release this gas (cross your fingers the gas comes out the way it went in and not the alternative route), but in a worst-case scenario, your dog could develop bloat – a potentially deadly problem, in which the stomach becomes twisted.

To avoid these problems, try to offer your pit small meals (you may have to offer him one-half of his food at a time for each feeding) or opt for a food-dispensing feeding toy that makes your dog work for his kibble! You can also find slow-feeder dog bowls that should slow down your dog’s food scarfing.

Additionally, encourage your pup to lie down and relax for 15 to 20 minutes after eating, and discourage him from running around or playing immediately after eating.

Keep An Eye Out For Food Allergies – A Common Pittie Problem

Food allergies are also a common problem among pit bulls, so many owners like to use foods that avoid many of the most common allergens, like chicken, corn, soy, beef and pork, in favor of ingredients like venison, salmon, sweet potatoes and lentils. However, there is nothing wrong with offering foods that contain these ingredients if you dog has never been diagnosed with food allergies.

Pit Bull Puppies vs. Adults: How to Feed Them

Pit bull puppies should be fed three times a day, but adults can be fed twice daily – once in the morning and once at night. Additionally, because puppies have unique dietary needs that differ from those of adults, you should select a suitable puppy food for young dogs.

You can switch your puppy to adult food once he is about 80% – 90% of his final size. Do so gradually, by mixing in an increasing amount of the adult food with the puppy food.

best food for pitbulls

Signs of a Superior Dog Food: Separating the Good from the Bad

Most of the criteria that distinguish high-quality, healthy dog foods from low-quality products are easy to spot. Consider the following factors when selecting any dog food, and keep your pit bull’s needs in mind.

  • Always look for foods with a whole protein as the 1st ingredient. While some meat-meals are fine supplemental protein sources, they should typically be listed as the 2nd, 3rd or 4th ingredient.
  • Avoid products that contain unidentified meat-meals. For example, there is nothing wrong with a dog food that lists chicken meal as the second ingredient; but products that include ingredients like “animal meal” or “meat meal” are not acceptable. The same principle holds true for other animal byproducts — select products that identify the source. Mystery meat isn’t good enough for your pittie!
  • Foods that have added antioxidants (or foods rich in antioxidants, like most colorful fruits and vegetables) or omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are preferable to those that do not. Antioxidants will help ensure proper immune function, while fatty acids are important for a variety of reasons, including proper brain development.
  • Look for foods that are manufactured in the United States, Canada, Europe, New Zealand or Australia, rather than countries without strict food-safety controls in place.
  • While “all natural” foods are not necessarily better than others (after all, cyanide, spider venom and plutonium are all perfectly natural, yet deadly to people and pups), it is wise to look for products that contain no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives whenever possible.

3 Best Dog Foods For Pit Bulls: Our Top Picks

Any of the following three food products should keep your pit bull healthy and happy. Just be sure to check the ingredients listed and select the best product for your pup.

1. Natural Balance Dry Dog Food: Sweet Potato & Venison

This is a sponsored placement, in which an advertiser pays a fee to be featured in this article. Learn more

Natural Balance Dry Dog Food

Natural Balance Dry Dog Food

Made with fresh venison & sweet potato

Premium food ideal for dogs with sensitive stomach or food allergies.

About: Natural Balance Dry Dog Food Diet Sweet Potato and Venison Formula is a super-premium dog food, well-suited for adult pit bulls.

Features:

  • Contains no artificial flavors, colors preservatives or bleached ingredients to help limit your pup’s exposure to potential allergens
  • Made with fresh venison – a novel protein source, unlikely to trigger food allergies
  • Fortified with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids

PROS

Many owners report that after switching to Natural Balance Dry Dog Food Diet, their dog’s allergy symptoms disappeared in short order. Some owners report that these changes have occurred in as little as two weeks.

CONS

Although a premium product (with a premium price tag), this particular food features sweet potatoes, rather than a protein source as the first ingredient. However, the food still contains 20% crude protein and the protein is supplied from high-quality, lean meats.

Ingredients List

Sweet Potatoes, Venison, Pea Protein, Potato Protein, Canola Oil, (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols)...,

Natural Flavor, Dicalcium Phosphate, Salmon Oil, Flaxseed, Potato Fiber, Calcium Carbonate, Salt, DL-Methionine, Minerals (Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Sulfate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Sulfate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Calcium Iodate), Taurine, Choline Chloride, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement Riboflavin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid), Citric Acid (preservative), Mixed Tocopherols (preservative), Rosemary Extract.

2. Canidae Grain Free Pure Dry Dog Food

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canidae-pure-salmon

Canidae Grain Free Pure Dry Dog Food

Quality grain-free dog food that’s rich in probiotics

Salmon-based formula that contains probiotic fermentation extracts to improve dog’s digestion.

About: Canidae Grain Free Pure Dry Dog Food is a salmon-based, high-quality dog food designed for pittie’s pleasure. 

Features:

  • Made with a limited number of ingredients, making it ideal for dogs with food allergies.
  • Contains several probiotic fermentation extracts to improve your dog’s ability to digest his food.
  • Carbohydrates provided by sweet potatoes, alfalfa and potatoes, rather than grains.
  • Available in five different flavors: salmon, duck, lamb, bison and wild boar.

PROS

Unlike many other products that feature novel proteins, Canidae Grain Free Pure is well-received by most dogs. Additionally, many owners report that it improved the consistency of their dog’s stools.

CONS

The alfalfa content may increase the amount of waste your dog produces, but this problem will usually disappear over time, as your dog’s digestive system adapts to the high fiber content of the food.

Ingredients List

Salmon, salmon meal, menhaden fish meal, sweet potatoes, peas...,

Canola oil, suncured alfalfa, potatoes, natural flavor, minerals (iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, copper proteinate, ferrous sulfate, zinc sulfate, copper sulfate, potassium iodide, manganese proteinate, manganous oxide, manganese sulfate, sodium selenite), vitamins (vitamin E supplement, thiamine mononitrate, ascorbic acid, vitamin A supplement, biotin, niacin, calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin B12 supplement, riboflavin, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid), choline chloride, dried enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried lactobacillus casei fermentation product, dried lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product, dried trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, mixed tocopherols (a natural source of vitamin E)

3. Taste of the Wild Dry Dog Food

This is a sponsored placement, in which an advertiser pays a fee to be featured in this article. Learn more

Taste of the Wild Dry Dog Food

Taste of the Wild Dry Dog Food

Kibble with real meat as first 3 ingredients

High-quality grain-free formula with antioxidants to support immune health.

About: Taste of the Wild Dry Dog Food is another high-quality, grain free option, formulated to mimic the diet of wild canids. 

Features:

  • Roasted lean meats are the 1st, 2nd and 3rd ingredient listed.
  • Available in 6 different versions, each of which feature a different primary protein: salmon, venison, duck, lamb, bison and wild boar.
  • Contains added antioxidants to help support immune health.
  • Manufactured in the United States.

PROS

Most owners report that their dogs love the recipe, and it usually helps to alleviate allergy symptoms (if present).

CONS

Some owners report that Taste of the Wild varies from one batch to the next, in terms of kibble size and apparent flavor.

Ingredients List

(High Prairie Flavor) Buffalo, lamb meal, chicken meal, sweet potatoes, peas, potatoes...,

Canola oil, egg product, roasted bison, roasted venison, beef, natural flavor, tomato pomace, potato protein, pea protein, ocean ­fish meal, salt, choline chloride, dried chicory root, tomatoes, blueberries, raspberries, yucca schidigera extract, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Bifidobacterium animalis fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus reuteri fermentation product, vitamin E supplement, iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, copper proteinate, ferrous sulfate, zinc sulfate, copper sulfate, potassium iodide, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), manganese proteinate, manganous oxide, ascorbic acid, vitamin A supplement, biotin, niacin, calcium pantothenate, manganese sulfate, sodium selenite, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), vitamin B12 supplement, riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin D supplement, folic acid.

***

Any of these foods should fill your pit’s belly, keep him healthy and help avoid the food allergies that commonly afflict the breed.

Just be sure that you offer an appropriate quantity of food, to ensure his body weight remains within the range recommended by your vet.

We’d love to hear your experiences with these (or any other) pit bull foods – let us know what you feed your pit in the comments below.

Are you a proud pittie owner? Make sure to also check out our article on the best dog toys for pit bulls (aka, the toughest toys we know of) as well as our guide to the best dog beds for pit bulls (again, we’ve dug up the most durable dog beds on the market). If anything can withstand your pittie’s power, it’s this stuff!

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Written by

Ben Team

Ben is the senior content editor for K9 of Mine and has spent most of his adult life working as a wildlife educator and animal-care professional. Ben’s had the chance to work with hundreds of different species, but his favorite animals have always been dogs. He currently lives in Atlanta, GA with his spoiled-rotten Rottweiler named J.B. Chances are, she’s currently giving him the eyes and begging to go to the park.

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6 Comments

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Suzanne

I continually hear (from experienced dog owners) that Grain-free dog food is bad for dogs…
I’m wondering why you would still recommend it?

Reply
Ben Team

Hey, Suzanne.
A correlation between BEG (boutique, exotic, and grain-free) foods and DCM has been established, but causation has not. So, we simply do not yet know if grain-free (etc.) foods are causing DCM, or if they’re related to the condition in some way, or it’s just a coincidence.

That said, we have been recommending that owners select a grain-inclusive food unless their dog has a specific intolerance to grains (which is pretty rare). We’ve also been changing some of our recommendations, but it simply takes time and we’re a pretty small and busy team. This article is on our update list, and we’ll be making some changes.

Also, just for the record, this article is about five years old — I’m pretty sure the date on the article reflects a time we updated some of the images.
Thanks for checking out the site and sharing your concerns!

Reply
Michele P Kautz

Help with a dog food suggestion, please? We have a rescued Pittie – 5 years old, male Our daughter found about 18 months ago at college. Not sure what food he was on before, but we have been feeding Rachael Ray Nutrish Beef & Brown Rice and Chicken and Brown Rice varieties. He was lean and healthy when we found him (previous owner just let him run away, but now has gained at least 12 extra pounds that he doesn’t need). He doesn’t get enough exercise (trying to work harder on this in colder northern region), but we are also concerned this isn’t the best food for him if he is less active than he should be. The food quality looks really good pro protein and amino acids and nutrients with the first ingredient as meat (beef or chicken), chicken mean, then dried peas, brown rice brewers rice pea protein poultry fat, then cranberries, chicken, dried apples, dried carrots (which he pushes aside), dried potatoes and more. Way doen the list with the nutrients i see brown sugar (I’m sure a very minimal amount for flavor) . I am just wondering if there is something else we should switch to? and of course work on exercise. Thank you so much !

Reply
Ben Team

Hey there, Michele.
Nutrish is a pretty solid food, so body-weight issues aside, we’d recommend sticking with it if it is working for you guys.

It’s probably wise to speak with your vet about your pup’s body weight and come up with a reasonable plan for helping him shed a few pounds. There are several different ways to do so, and a combination of approaches is probably the best strategy.

Exercise is obviously important (not just for his body weight, but his mental and emotional well-being too), but simply reducing the amount of food you give him may also be helpful. Cutting back on treats and people food is also something to consider. Again, you’ll just want to devise a good weight-loss plan in conjunction with your vet to make sure you help him get back in shape safely and without making the poor pooch hungry all the time.

Best of luck!
P.S. Also, check out our tips for helping dogs get exercise indoors — it may be helpful in your situation!

Reply
Kay

Looking for info all about Pitbulls.Just rescued a two year old male pit.Named him Jax.

Reply
Toni Ferro

I have an american Bulldog who has allergies and also has gastritis after I got him from the shelter. The vet put him ob Royal Canin Ultamino and his was straining to poop and the ingredients are terrible. Has feather meal in it and the main ingredient is corn starch and meat by products.I switched him to the Royal Canin GI. I want to switch him to a better dry food but I dont know if I need to continue using a GI food.

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