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.
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.
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
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.
- 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
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.
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.
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
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
- 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.
Most owners report that their dogs love the recipe, and it usually helps to alleviate allergy symptoms (if present).
Some owners report that Taste of the Wild varies from one batch to the next, in terms of kibble size and apparent flavor.
(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!