Pitty, bullie, velvet hippo. Whatever your endearing nickname is for your pitbull, as a pitbull parent, you’re likely aware of their unique needs — and loyal and clownish personalities.
Because of pitbulls’ strong and lean body types, one of those unique needs is a tailored diet. Though all dogs require a balanced diet, pitbulls thrive with a more customized approach. So what is the best dog food for pitbulls?
In this article, we’ll cover the nutrition basics, common health concerns to be aware of as a pet parent, and recommended ingredients to look for in your pitbull’s dog food.
Pitbull Nutrition: The Basics You Should Know
The pitbull breed is not actually recognized by the American Kennel Club, but American Staffordshire terriers are. Every American Staffordshire terrier can technically be an American pitbull terrier, but not every American pitbull terrier is an American Staffordshire terrier.
All this being said, nutritional guidelines for pitties typically align with those for American Staffordshire terriers. A balanced diet can impact their energy levels, growth, and overall health.
Size and Build
As a large dog breed, pitbulls are known for their strength and athleticism, thanks to their wide, muscular stance. Because of their build, they can excel in a number of sports. Male pitbulls typically weigh between 35 and 60 pounds, while female pitbulls usually weigh 30 to 50 pounds.
Pitbulls are known for their deep chests, well-developed hindquarters, large heads, and wide necks. Because of their muscular builds, pitbulls, especially highly active ones, may need extra protein. So take these factors into account when choosing the best dog food for your pitbull.
Protein and Caloric Needs
As mentioned, pitbulls may need extra protein and calories in their diet to keep up with their activity levels and support muscle health. But it’s important to make sure that any calorie increases are balanced with an increase of protein. Otherwise, your pitbull may end up more chunky than buff!
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) recommends 18% protein in an adult dog’s diet to maintain their health. For a pitbull, though, that percentage could be as high as 20% to 22%.
All dogs need activity throughout the day. But pitbulls, in particular, need a lot. They are high-energy dogs that often require one to two hours of exercise per day. This can vary based on your pittie’s age and physical abilities, but things like walks, playing in the yard or at a dog park, and trick training all count as exercise.
The key here is to ensure your pup’s activity levels align with how much food they're eating. For example, if you have a senior dog who is less active, they won’t need as much food as a pitbull puppy who’s always on the move.
Common Health Concerns in Pitbulls Related to Diet
Your dog’s diet can have a connection to common health problems. All breeds can develop health issues, but some specific to pitbulls include hip dysplasia, allergies, and heart conditions. A well-chosen diet can help prevent or manage these concerns.
Because pitties have unique hips, hip dysplasia is a common problem. Hip dysplasia is a degenerative condition that causes the hip bone to dislocate from its proper place. The condition can gradually develop over the years and become extremely painful as it progresses.
In addition to a balanced diet for your pup, there are specific nutrients that can support their bone and joint health. Omega-3 fatty acids — specifically EPA and DHA — are vital for joint, bone, and hip health. For an added serving of EPA and DHA in your dog’s diet, try The Honest Kitchen’s Hip & Joint Pour-Over.
Many dog breeds can have allergies. Whether environmental or food-related, allergies can interfere with your pup’s quality of life. Skin conditions from allergies are common in pitbulls due to their short fur. Pitbulls have more exposed skin than dogs with thicker coats, making it easier to come into contact with irritants.
Food allergies can also be a concern for pitbulls and can cause things like gastrointestinal issues, skin rashes, or itchiness. Common food allergies for pitbulls include:
- Meat, such as beef, chicken, lamb, pork, venison, or rabbit
- Other animal protein, like eggs or dairy
- Artificial flavors and preservatives
Heart conditions in dogs, especially pitbulls, are usually due to a genetic predisposition. A few common heart diseases in pitbulls include congestive heart failure, pulmonic stenosis, and canine dilated cardiomyopathy.
Though only a small percentage of dogs develop heart disease, it’s important to consider your pup’s heart health when it comes to their diet. In addition to supporting hip and joint health, the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA can be beneficial for your dog’s heart. These nutrients can be found in fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines.
Macronutrients Your Pitbull Needs
Macronutrients are nutrients dogs need in larger quantities that provide them with sustained energy. Your pittie should get a proper balance of high-quality protein, fats, and carbohydrates to maintain their health.
Protein is one of the main nutrients responsible for maintaining your dog’s muscle mass, strength, and endurance. Healthy protein sources for your pup can include lean meats like beef, chicken, lamb, as well as fish and eggs.
When combined with protein and carbs, healthy fats are essential for a dog’s energy production, development of cells, brain functioning, hormone regulation, skin and coat health, and nutrient absorption.
Some of the best healthy fats to include in your pitbull’s diet are fatty acids like fish oil and flaxseed oil, which contain omega fatty acids. Fat from animal sources like chicken or beef can also support your dog’s health.
Carbs are important in any dog's diet, and in pitbulls especially. They act as an additional source of energy and can even help support their digestive systems.
Some carbs are better than others, though. It’s best to avoid highly processed carbs like meals and starchy grains. Instead, look for whole grains like brown rice and carb-heavy vegetables, such as sweet potatoes.
You should also take your pup’s activity level into consideration. Dogs who spend all day going from one napping spot to another will likely need fewer carbs than highly active dogs.
Ingredients To Look for vs. Ingredients To Avoid in a Pitbull’s Diet
In addition to looking at the different nutrient levels in your dog’s food, you should also keep an eye on the specific ingredients. High-quality dog foods will have an assortment of real, healthy ingredients, while low-quality foods come with a lot of fillers and cheap nutrient sources.
Ingredients To Look For
Lean meats, fish, antioxidant-rich fruits, omega-3s, and veggies all deserve a place in your pitbull’s diet. Some examples include:
- Whole chicken, beef, turkey, and lamb can provide quality, clean energy.
- Fish like salmon or whitefish are natural sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which can support healthy skin, coat, and joint health.
- Antioxidant-rich fruits like blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries include vitamins C and E and can also protect your pup against cellular damage caused by free radicals.
- Vegetables like carrots, peas, pumpkin, spinach, squash, and sweet potatoes can provide your dog with tons of vitamins and minerals that will support their overall health.
Ingredients To Avoid
On the flip side, there are some ingredients to avoid, including:
- Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) — a chemical preservative added to fats and oils — can negatively impact your dog’s gastrointestinal system and irritate their skin and eyes.
- Chicken meal and other meat meals are low-quality meat by-products processed and cooked at very high temperatures to turn into a powdery meal. They can trigger stomach upset.
- White flour is a simple carb that can spike your dog’s blood sugar levels. This ingredient won’t keep your pup as full either, which can cause them to eat more than they need, increasing obesity risk.
- Rendered fat and vegetable oils are not ideal types of fat and can increase inflammation in some dogs, which can negatively impact their joints and hips.
The Honest Kitchen: A Good Option For Your Pitbull
With all of the information above in mind, it might seem impossible to find dog food that checks all the boxes necessary to support your pitbull’s health.
Luckily, The Honest Kitchen is here to help. We offer nutritionally balanced human grade dog food that even the pickiest eaters love. You can even read stories from other pitbull parents about how The Honest Kitchen made it easy to fulfill their pitbulls’ nutritional needs!
So if you’re looking for the best dog food for pitbulls, here are our top picks from The Honest Kitchen.
Limited Ingredient Grain Free Fish Dehydrated Food
If your pittie often has trouble with allergies or sensitivities, a limited ingredient diet might be just what they need. The Honest Kitchen’s Grain Free Limited Ingredient Dehydrated Fish recipe includes wild caught white fish, pumpkin, coconut, chickpeas, celery, and spinach.
Fish is an excellent protein source for pups with allergies or food sensitivities, and all of the ingredients are gently dehydrated to maintain nutrients and taste and support overall health.
Clusters Dry Dog Food
Another option that can be great for pitbulls is The Honest Kitchen’s Clusters dry dog food. The larger kibbles are ideal for big dogs like pitties and come in grain free and whole grain options.
Grain Free Dog Food
Grains can be difficult for dogs with sensitive stomachs. This is where The Honest Kitchen’s Grain Free Beef Clusters steps in. This recipe includes nutrient-rich ingredients that are cold-pressed into bite-sized clusters and then roasted and dehydrated slowly.
Ingredients in this recipe include beef, potatoes, peas, beef liver, lentils, carrots, ground flaxseed, broccoli, salmon oil, kale, and tons of vitamins and minerals to support a balanced diet. In addition to the beef recipe, grain-free clusters are also offered in turkey and chicken recipes.
Whole Grain Dog Food
If your pup doesn’t have any sensitivities to grains, The Honest Kitchen’s Whole Grain Chicken Clusters may be a great choice to support a balanced diet. Whole grains support and sustain your dog’s energy, keep them feeling full longer and are a good source of digestible carbohydrates.
In this recipe, the first ingredient is cage-free chicken, followed by oats, barley, chicken liver, carrots, eggs, flaxseed, broccoli, pumpkin, and apples. It also contains added vitamin supplements like vitamin A, D3, amino acids, niacin, folic acid, calcium, B vitamins, and turmeric.
Skin and Coat Pour Over Topper
If your pitbull needs an added boost, check out The Honest Kitchen’s Skin and Coat Pour-Over Topper. This supplement will give your pup a boost of omega-3, biotin, and vitamin E, which are all essential for supporting pitbulls’ skin and coat health.
For extra fun, pour the topper into a Kong toy, freeze for a few hours, and give it to your dog for a tasty, crunchy treat.
Choose The Honest Kitchen For Your Pup’s Diet
No matter which life stage your pitbull is in, they need a well-balanced diet that supports their unique needs. A balanced diet can sometimes be a challenge to get right, but with The Honest Kitchen’s human grade dog food options, it’s easy to give your pittie all the nutrients they need.
The Honest Kitchen strives to meet the essential needs of your pup to support a balanced, high-quality diet — with an emphasis on great taste. From wet dog food toppers and grain free options to dehydrated and traditional dry food, The Honest Kitchen’s options can support any pitbull’s health.
*Health Disclaimer: This post is educational in nature and doesn’t constitute health advice. Please consult your pet's veterinarian or other healthcare professional for specific guidance on this topic.