5 Best Pit Bull Puppy Food (& Adult Food): 2019 Rating
What’s the best dog food for pit bulls? The answer to that is going to be somewhat similar to asking what the best food is for a bodybuilder. These a lean, muscle-bound dogs who typically love to exercise, work and play. They’ve also got their fair share of problems with their health, and some of them can even be fatal (see more below), so choosing the right food for them may be even more important than it is for some other breeds
But that’s why you’re here right? Good! Because we ask several registered dog handlers and pit bull enthusiasts about it (in addition to doing some research and testing some foods), and we came up with what we think is a great list of food recommendations for your pit. So take a peek below, and let us know if you have any questions.
Quick Comparison of Some Good Foods for Pit Bulls
**Below, you'll find our expert's science-backed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Chewy.
Pit Bull Diet & Nutritional Needs
**Please note: these estimates are based on an average weight for this breed. Every dog is different. Please talk to your vet before making changes to your dog's diet.
To estimate how many calories your dog needs to consume per day, you need to know his ideal body weight. So, it’s important to understand that the numbers above are based on an average weight for pit bulls.
Of course, you need to understand your dog’s ideal bodyweight to know much he should be eating. The best way to get that info is (of course) to ask your vet, but you can get a good approximation by using chart like this one:
For pit bulls, an average weight is about 45 pounds, although pit bulls have an unusually large weight range, since the term “pit bull” is used to describe three different breeds: the American Staffordshire terrier, the Staffordshire bull terrier, and the American pit bull terrier.
Still, 45 pounds is about average, and at that poundage, a typical adult pitbull needs approximately 1,100 calories per day. A dog a little further along in life might need considerable less, say, about 875 calories.
If your pit bull is super, super active (or if he’s a workin’ dog), he’ll of course need a lot more: up to 1,700 calories for very active dogs. And remember, feeding a pit bull puppy is very different, so different rules apply.
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The Importance of A Pit’s Balanced Weight
It almost goes without saying that an obese pit bull is going to run into some serious health problems. Even though pit bulls is not necessarily predisposed to dramatic weight gain like some breeds, the breed’s voracious appetite could make keeping your pup’s pounds in check a challenge.
Much like we humans, an obese pit bull can experience a greater risk of certain diseases and ailments compared to a healthy pit. Heart disease, diabetes, and poor liver function are all issues that could be more prominent amongst pit bulls that are heavy-set. They may also be more susceptible to things you may not think of, like heat intolerance.
Obviously, keeping an eye on your dog’s diet is a key component in preventing your pup’s obesity from getting out of hand. If you’re feeding him right, you may want to consider upping your pit’s exercise game. Remember, a pit bull is a strong, athletic dog that is primed for activity, so he won’t mind much if you increase his workout regimen.
There are several ways you can go about using a bump in exercise in conjunction with a healthy diet. Some of these activities particularly drill down to his inherent athletic nature, such as setting up retrieval games or putting together a backyard obstacle course. Other activities, such as runs on a dog-specific treadmill, can help bring outdoor fun inside.
Of course, you can also choose to use your pit’s need for more exercise as a reason for you to get more active. Going on off-lead hikes can be a great way for the both of you to get in shape, provided that you have designated areas nearby for you to do so. If your pit has top-notch leash manners, he may even be able to lead you on a bike ride.
Because obesity is such a well-known threat, it could be easy to swing the pendulum the other way and become so rigid with portion control, you end up underfeeding your pit bull. However, a pit that is underweight could develop an entirely different set of problems, including several illnesses related to the gastrointestinal tract.
Sometimes, a pit bull’s drop to an unhealthy level could be symptomatic of a bigger issue, such as irritable bowel syndrome or the presence of a parasite. If you suspect the weight loss points to a more serious condition, you should check in with your vet to make sure things are okay.
Other times, a skinny pit bull may be a product of his environment. For instance, it’s not unusual for a shelter pit to be a bit emaciated. This may be because he simply has not been able to develop a consistent feeding routine.
Carefully Bringing an Underweight Pit Bull to a Healthy Weight
If you have an underweight pit bull on your hands, it’s important that you not only bring him back to a healthy weight, but that you do so in a way that protects his overall health. You shouldn’t just give him a bunch of food and instruct him to go nuts. If you do that, you’ll be doing much more harm than good.
Your first step - especially if you’re dealing with a new shelter pup in your life - is to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. Your vet will be able to rule out any medicinal causes to your pit’s emaciation. He or she may also help you hatch a proper dietary regiment to help your pit get over the hump.
Once you’re ready to go, carefully increase the amount of food that he takes in throughout the day. The best way to go about doing this is to simply add to the recommended serving portion as dictated on his bag of dog food. Continue to do this until he hits his ideal weight range.
It’s very important to note that as you’re feeding him more food, you don’t put the kibosh on his daily exercise routine. Yes, doing this will cause your pooch to burn some calories. However, it will also help to maintain your healthy functionality in your pit’s heart and lungs. You will also help him build up some muscle mass along the way.
Probably the most important thing you need to know about feeding your pit bull is that he needs a lot of protein.
And there are a few reasons for this.
First, he’s got a lot of muscle. Any animal who needs to maintain muscle mass needs adequate amounts of protein to do it. That’s just how it is. Secondly, pit bulls are usually pretty active, and active dogs just tend to need more protein than non-active dogs.
Lastly, though (and probably most important), pit bulls are prone to some very series—and even fatal—health problems that can be prevented by eating a high-protein, low-grain diet.
So how much protein? For most dogs, choosing a food with 25% protein is perfectly adequate. For pit bulls, you should probably go for a little higher. Shoot for protein content of at least 25%, and really, 40% is about ideal.
The second most important thing to keep an eye on is carbohydrates. Pit bulls love to eat. In fact, they’re pretty well-known for scarfing down their food without even chewing. And that can lead to a couple different problems, not the least of which is obesity (plus one other serious one).
So, you generally want to avoid high-carb dog foods. I’m not saying to skip the carbs altogether. I’m just saying you don’t need to load up on them. More specifically, avoid grains, since those can cause even more problems.
Of course, your pit bull also needs plenty of good fats, but they’re not a breed who needs to really pack them in. Plus, most dog foods out there (and certainly the ones we’re recommending here) have plenty of fat. It’s usually enough just to make sure your dog’s food has at least one good source of fat, like fish or flax.
Monitoring your Pit Bull’s Food Intake
Because pit bulls will wolf down food at any given time, it is very important that you keep a close watch on how much food he’s consuming. The best way to go about this is to keep him on a strict feeding schedule.
The number of meals to provide your pit bull will vary on his age. If you’re dealing with a young puppy of nursing age, you should provide him with soft, dry food two to three times a day. This will help him grow to a proper mature size.
When your pit bull pup is completely weaned, you should continue to feed him two to three times daily. At this time, you will want to provide him with high-quality puppy food specifically formulated for large breeds. Continue on this schedule until he reaches one year old.
When your pit bull matures into adulthood, you can feed him once or twice a day. If you opt for two feedings, be careful that you portion each meal to be half his daily allowance of food. Without this diligence in place, it could be easy to over-feed your little buddy.
Conversely, you should be mindful of a couple things if you plan on sticking to one daily meal. Some dogs tend to be a little whiny and anxious if they only eat once a day. On the other hand, one daily meal may make it easy to control your pup’s health, especially if he’s obese.
Pit Bull Health Problems & How Looking for Good Ingredients Helps
For whatever reason, pit bulls are prone to skin and coat problems, and a lot of these problems come from allergies.
An easy way to stop this before it starts is to simply avoid foods that most commonly trigger allergies in dogs. There are several of these foods, but the most common are wheat, corn and potatoes.
Gastric torsion (bloat)
This one’s important and very serious, so listen up.
Gastric torsion, or bloat, is when your dog’s stomach twists on itself and stops releasing gasses, which can cause extreme bloating and can be fatal. If you see symptoms, take your pup to the vet straight away.
Pit bulls are at a higher risk for bloat because they eat so damn fast (and they really do tend to swallow without chewing).
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to prevent this. First, avoid grains, which can cause more gasses to be released during digestion. Shoot for higher protein content instead, and look for foods that include carbs from good, slow-burning sources, like lentils.
Secondly, space your dog’s meals out throughout the day, so that they’re eating smaller portions more frequently. Two meals is usually fine, but you divide your dog’s food into three or four meals if that makes you more comfortable.
Lastly, make sure your pit bull doesn’t go bonkers after he eats. Exercising too vigorously shakes up the stomach, which releases more gasses and increases the risk of the stomach twisting. So just make sure your furry friend takes a chill pill for at least an hour after dinner time.
Hip & Elbow Problems
Large, active breeds tend to have joint problems, and that’s as true for pit bulls as it is for any of them.
Sometimes, this just happens with age, especially if your dog likes to romp around. However, one of the things that makes it worse is obesity, and that’s something totally within your control.
The rules of thumb here are to (1) be careful about overfeeding your dog and (2) buy dog foods that have higher protein content and plenty of produce—both of which are nutrient-dense and can help your pit maintain his weight.
Let's Look At a Few of the Best Dog Foods for Pit Bulls
I wanted to give you a quick note here: the foods we recommend for pit bulls are high-protein, grain-free formulas; however, many grain-free formulas contain potatoes. That’s not bad, but potatoes can be an allergen. So, if your pit is prone to allergies, make sure you ask your vet about a good, protein-rich, hypoallergenic diet.
This is one of the few foods out there (in our opinion) that really knocks it out of the park. And it’s particularly good for pit bulls for a number of reasons.
First, it’s got a lot of protein. Of the total dry matter of the dog food, about 42% comes from protein. That’s just about right for this breed.
Those protein calories also come from a few nice, wholesome, quality source: bison meal, lamb meal and egg.
In addition to being packed with protein, there’s plenty of good fruits and veggies, and great sources of omega fatty acids (mostly flax).
Best of all, there are no potatoes! So this is a pretty good option if you suspect your pet pit is prone to allergies.
Why it’s good for this breed:
Lots of protein, no grains, no potatoes, a variety of fruits and veggies.
Just be aware of…
A few controversial ingredients: pea protein and canola oil.
We recommend Merrick’s stuff pretty often, and we’ve recommended this one more than once for some of the large breeds we’ve covered here.
And for good reason. In addition to being grain-free, this stuff is packed with good protein. About 43% of this food comes from solid sources of protein: real duck, turkey meal, and salmon meal (we love seeing fish in our dog foods).
Most of carbohydrates come from sweet potatoes, although it also contains some white potatoes, which (as mentioned above) could be an allergen for some dogs.
Merrick also does a really great job of including lots of produce. In this recipe, however, they’ve skimped a bit. There are still apples, blueberries and whole peas, but some of their formulas have a lot more. Not a huge deal, we just typically like to see more robust nutritional profiles.
Overall, we like this food, and we like this brand. This is our pup's daily food, so we stand by it.
Why pit bulls will like it:
Lots of protein, no grains, tastes super good (according to our dog).
Contains potatoes, not as many veggies as we’re used to seeing from Merrick, a few weird ingredients (pea protein & alfalfa).
We picked this food because it had the word “Entrée” in the title. Kidding. But good marketing!
All jokes aside, this is a great formula, and it’s a good fit for this breed.
Like all the other dog foods we’re recommending for pit bulls, this is a high-protein recipe with no grains. About 43% of the dry matter in this dog food comes from protein.
Plus, the main ingredients are all good sources of meat: deboned duck, turkey meal, lamb meal and salmon meal (which is also an excellent source of fats).
Sweet potatoes make up most of the carbohydrates, although you’ll see there are some white potatoes in here as well.
We also like the variety of great produce here: apples, carrots, a couple different kinds of berries, and bananas. We’d like to see more leafy greens, but hey… can’t have it all.
It’s good for pit bulls because:
High protein content, no grains, variety of good meats, plenty of produce.
Contains white potatoes, a few controversial foods (vegetable proteins and alfalfa).
Farmina Natural and Delicious grain-free formula is the last on our list here, and it’s another great option for this breed (even if it has a few drawbacks).
The best thing about this recipe is the protein content (noticing a trend?). Protein ingredients—chicken, dehydrated chicke, egg and herring make up roughly 41% of the total dry matter here. That’s nothing to sneeze at.
The only real reason we didn’t put this food higher on our list was that the third ingredient is potato, and pit bulls tend to have allergies. If your dog is allergy, free, though this is a solid choice.
That, and the produce here is in small quantities than in other foods.
Why you’ll like it:
Lots of protein, lots of protein sources, no grains.
Why you may not like it:
Not much produce, carbs come from potatoes, only small quantities of produce.
Dig this post? Here's another good one on feeding your French bulldog.
Quick note: We used to recommend Blue Buffalo for this breed, and we still do sometimes. However, we'd like readers to know that they recently settled a class action lawsuit and we've reserved our recommendation until we can perform more extensive research.
**Disclaimer: Our dog food reviews are based mostly on (1) our expertise and that of the experts with whom we consult and (2) the information provided by the manufacturers. We do test many dog foods (with our dog's help), but we can't test them all. As such, please remember the above recommendations are our opinions, and you should consult your vet before making changes to your dog's diet.
Image credits: Chewy.com