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As anyone who loves one will tell you, the pit bull is an affectionate, lovable, and goofy breed that’s unfortunately been saddled with a bad reputation. But like any other dog, pit bulls thrive in loving, stable homes with good training and a well-balanced diet.
In this article, we’ll explore the nutritional requirements of pit bulls, and suggest some of the best dog food for pit bulls available to keep your pitty happy and healthy.
Canine Nutrition Basics
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) has determined the minimal requirements for key nutrients in dogs. AAFCO recommendations state a minimum of 22% protein for canine growth and reproduction (puppies and lactating females) and an 18% minimum for adult dogs. For fat, these numbers are 8% and 5%, respectively.
To meet these requirements, feed your pit bull a high-quality dog food made with real, whole-food sources of these nutrients. Animal protein like meat or poultry should be the focus with higher than average fat and limited carbohydrate content.
Remember that AAFCO standards exist to encourage commercial pet food products to adhere to minimum nutritional requirements. You’ll probably agree, however, that your pit bull deserves more than the bare minimum. Checking for an AAFCO statement of nutritional adequacy on the label is a good way to weed out the really bad dog foods, but the statement itself isn’t a wholesale guarantee of quality.
It’s your job as a dog owner to understand the truth about dog food. Take the AAFCO statement with a grain of salt and do the work to make sure the food you’re considering is of high quality and will do more than just meet your dog’s minimum nutritional needs.
Dog Food for Pit Bulls: Specific Nutritional Needs
The “pit bull” breed is actually a type that encompasses the following breeds: American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, American bully, and Staffordshire bull terrier. Though these dogs can vary in size, in general, pitties are stocky, but muscular, with square heads and short hair. Pit bulls are active with a high prey drive, so foods high in protein from quality sources are a good match for their energy.
Some pit bulls can be susceptible to allergies, so it’s worth discussing with your vet whether grain-free food (more on that below) or other ingredient-specific types of dog food might be best for your pit bull. Fatty acids in your pit bull’s diet can also be helpful for addressing their skin issues.
In rare cases, pit bulls can develop a type of heart disease called aortic stenosis. Along with proper monitoring and/or any vet-prescribed medications, a well-balanced diet is key, and low sodium meals or supplemental fish oil may be considerations for your pitty’s heart health.
Hip dysplasia is another health condition that can affect pit bulls, and too much calcium, along with vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium, can hinder bone and cartilage development. So, you’ll also want to examine the vitamin content of your dog’s food carefully, especially as a puppy when developing strong bones is critical, writes veterinarian Betsy Brevitz in her guide Hound Health Handbook: The Definitive Guide to Keeping Your Dog Happy, Healthy & Active. For larger pit bull puppies, Brevitz recommends between 1 to 1.5% calcium for your pit bull’s diet as a whole.
Dog Food for Pit Bulls: Wet vs. Dry
According to the Clinical Nutrition Service (part of Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University), wet food can be easier for dogs to chew and swallow and is also a good option for picky eaters. Canned food also has higher water content, which can be beneficial for doggos with certain health considerations. Fat and protein are more prevalent in wet food, so this may be a good option if your pit bull requires a higher protein diet, but not a good choice for pitties who need to watch their fat consumption.
Dry food is often the more popular choice, as kibble has a longer shelf life than wet food (always check the label’s date for freshness), and is less messy at mealtimes. According to PetMD, dry food has been found in some cases to help maintain dental health in dogs (in accordance with regular teeth cleanings and dental chews).
Dog Food for Pit Bulls: To Grain or Not to Grain
As mentioned above, grain-free is another potential factor to consider. Some owners prefer grain-free as it is closer to the traditionally carnivorous Canis genus diet and can be easier on a dog’s digestive system, especially if your dog has grain allergies or sensitivities.
However, grain-free diets have been potentially linked to heart issues in canines by the FDA, so it’s best to check with your veterinarian before switching or starting your dog on one. Single, whole-grain dog food is another potential option and it is exactly what it sounds like: dog food made with a single whole grain (as opposed to a compound of different grains).
Read onward to see our picks for the best dog food for pit bulls.
Best Dog Food for Pit Bulls
Now that you know a little more about what ingredients are best for your pitbull, here are some great food options available for purchase.
Cage-free chicken is the leading ingredient in Diamond Naturals’ formula, which also includes whole grains, fruits and veggies. You’ll also find omega fatty acids in this recipe, as well as probiotics. This recipe contains zero wheat, corn, or soy and is also free of artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.Shop Now on Chewy
A well-balanced blend of protein, fat, and carbs, Wellness is known for its quality ingredients and lack of byproducts, fillers, and artificial flavors in its pet food formulas. Deboned chicken, chicken meal, oatmeal, and ground barley are among its top ingredients.Shop Now on Chewy
A hearty choice for your adult, large-breed pittie, this formula is high in protein with 60% animal ingredients, including nutrient dense organs like liver and kidneys. Free of corn, wheat, and soy, Wild Frontier’s grain-free recipe leads with beef and split peas and contains other nutritious ingredients such as wild boar, beet pulp, and fish oil.Shop Now on Chewy
For pit bulls that prefer or require wet food, Blue Buffalo’s Grain-Free Freedom Grillers is a solid choice, leading its ingredients’ list with beef and beef broth. This formula also contains wholesome vegetables, vitamins, and minerals. No byproducts, artificial flavors, or preservatives in this can!Buy Now on Amazon
Though on the pricier side, Orijen’s dog food is made from high-quality, regional ingredients. Formulated with 85% animal ingredients (including bone, organs, and cartilage) this dry food is protein-rich and leads with deboned chicken and turkey. You can also find nutrient dense foods such as Atlantic mackerel, cage-free eggs, and whole red lentils. Cooked in the USA, this recipe is grain free.Buy Now on Amazon
This one’s for you, pitty puppies! Family owned Taste of the Wild’s recipe is made with sustainably sourced ingredients. This recipe leads with buffalo and lamb meal, and also includes other high protein ingredients such as bison and venison. Free of fillers, such as corn and wheat, it does contain probiotics to help keep puppy’s digestive system healthy.Buy Now on Amazon
A good wet option for pit bulls, lamb, beef, and salmon make up the primary proteins in this recipe. Made with fruits and veggies—but without corn, grains, wheat, or soy—this formula also contains glucosamine and chondroitin to help ensure the health of your pitty’s hips and joints.Shop Now on Chewy
Talk to Your Vet Before Choosing Any New Food for Your Dog
We’ve selected some great dog food options for your pit bull. But before introducing any new foods into your dog’s diet, we suggest consulting with your vet. Your veterinarian can help you understand any health issues your pit bull may be experiencing, and can recommend dog food that’s going to best support their specific health needs.
Learn more about caring for and owning pit bulls in the articles below.
- Breed Profile: An Essential Guide to Pit Bulls
- Pit Bull Puppies: Everything You Need to Know
- 8 Pit Bull Facts Every Dog Lover Should Know
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