American Pitbull Terriers (aka Pitbulls) are strong, active dogs. They need a dog food that contains the right combination of nutrients to provide them with the energy they need and keep them healthy.
We also need to take into consideration a few health concerns that Pitbulls are prone to choose the best dog food for them.
First, here’s a little look at my top 4 choices of the best dog food for Pitbulls.
My 4 top picks of the best dog food for Pitbulls in 2018:
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Contents & Quick Navigation
- My 4 top picks of the best dog food for Pitbulls in 2018:
- How many calories does my Pitbull need?
- Common health concerns in Pitbulls and how choosing the right food can help
- Macronutrient needs for Pitbulls
- What is the best dog food for Pitbulls?
How many calories does my Pitbull need?
Pitbulls are medium-sized, active dogs with a lot of muscle mass, so they need quite a lot of calories to sustain them. Your dog’s intake will, of course, depend on her individual level of activity.
An average Pitbull weighs 50 lb, so I have calculated the following calorie intakes* based on this weight.
Of course, males tend to be more muscular, so they often weigh more. If your Pitbull is of the female persuasion, the calorie intake is likely to be lower.
*Calculated using Dog Food Advisor’s calorie calculator. Please consult with your veterinarian to get an exact amount for your dog.
Common health concerns in Pitbulls and how choosing the right food can help
Pitbulls can suffer from skin irritation, which can be triggered by flea allergies, seasonal allergies, and food allergies. It tends to affect their feet, belly, ears, and in the folds of their skin, and shows up in the form of dry, itchy skin.
If your Pitbull is prone to food allergies, you should avoid grains, and other common allergens, which are:
As I suggested in the article on the best dog food for Rottweilers, you can try your Pitbull on a “limited ingredient” dog food, which usually just has one meat and one carb source (which tends to be a non-grain). This can help to narrow down what she is allergic to.
You can also look for foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids from fish or flaxseed oil. The anti-inflammatory properties in omega-3s can help relieve itching in Pitbulls with skin allergies.
Bloat is more common in large breed dogs, but it has been known to occur in Pitbulls. It happens when the stomach fills with gas and becomes distended, caused by a dog consuming a large amount of food too quickly, eating from a raised food bowl, or on exercising directly after eating. It is a very serious condition and can be fatal.
You can protect your Pitbull from this condition by feeding her 2 or 3 smaller meals throughout the day and letting her rest for at least an hour after eating.
Elbow and Hip Dysplasia
Elbow and hip dysplasia is seen in many large dog breeds, and, unfortunately, the American Pitbull is prone to both conditions, too. Elbow and hip dysplasia involve abnormal growth or formation of the joint, causing arthritic pain, and even lameness.
The best thing you can do for her is to keep her at a healthy weight, as overweight dogs will put more strain on their joints.
You can also look out for dog foods that are specifically designed to help dogs with joint problems. These often contain high levels of omega-3s, as well as two nutrients called glucosamine and chondroitin, which help with bone, joint, and cartilage health.
Like Boxers, Pitbulls are prone to this condition which affects the thyroid, causing low hormone levels. This can lead to lethargy, a dull coat, and weigh increase. According to the Michigan State University, out of 30 dogs most affected by the condition, she ranks 6th.
Diet can help your dog stay healthy if she suffers from this condition, as it has been shown to cause a depletion of basic nutrients. Avoid processed foods, and look for a dog food that contains a good range of fruits and vegetables, which are good whole food sources of vitamins and minerals.
You can also look out for sources of iodine, like fish, kelp, and seaweed, or food that has added iodine, as this mineral is beneficial for thyroid health. Those good old omega-3 fatty acids also help, which you can find in fish oils or flaxseed oil.
Pitbulls do have a tendency to become overweight. Unlike Huskies, who stop eating when they’re full, Pitbulls usually have quite an appetite. Unless you give her measured amounts of food, she can keep going and going.
Make sure you consult with your veterinarian about the specific caloric amount your dog needs for her size and don’t go over that amount.
Remember, treats should be included in her daily allowance!
Macronutrient needs for Pitbulls
Pitbulls are very muscular dogs, who are usually active and very playful.
Protein is vital for muscle development and to provide her with energy, so your Pitbull needs at least 25 - 30% protein in her diet. If she is a very active dog or working dog (who gets more than one hour’s exercise a day), she will require 30 - 40%.
Remember, the quality of the protein is just as important as the quantity! Don’t choose dog foods that use by-products or unspecified sources like “meat meal.”
Since Pitbulls are energetic - and, let’s face it, they love to clown around - they also need fairly moderate to high levels of fat. This is because they need to use fat for energy, as it contains the most concentrated source of energy of all macronutrients.
15 - 20% is good for typical Pitbulls, and 20 - 25% for very active or working Pitbulls.
If she suffers from skin allergies, she will benefit from omega-3 fatty acids, as these reduce inflammation. As we have seen, these also support her joints and thyroid. Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids are fish oil and flaxseed oil.
As these omega oils can help your Pitbull in a few different ways, it’s a good idea to go for a dog food whose main source of protein is from fish.
When it comes to carbs, dogs don’t need a great deal. I usually advise a dog food that is high in protein and low in carbs, containing no more than 20% carbohydrates.
You can try your Pitbull on good-quality whole grains like barley and brown rice, but it may be better to avoid grains altogether if she suffers from allergies. There are many high-quality, grain-free dog foods out there that source their carbs from vegetables like sweet potato.
What is the best dog food for Pitbulls?
Taste of the Wild is a great brand that, in my opinion, puts quality first (and sells it at an affordable price). They actually steam dry their food with purified water to make sure there are no nasty chemicals, plus they use natural preservatives.
This recipe is a good choice for typical Pitbulls, as the protein content (25%) and fat content (15%) fall on the lowest boundary I suggested for this breed.
The protein mainly comes from salmon, providing those omega-3s which support your Pitbull’s joints, thyroid and skin health. There are not as many as in Orijen’s recipe, however.
For carbohydrates, this recipe includes sweet potatoes and potatoes as an alternative to grains. In fact, Tate of the Wild only makes grain-free dog food to prevent allergic reactions.
They also include a fair few fruit and vegetables to provide your dog with important vitamins and minerals for her immune system; however, not quite an impressive amount as Orijen.
I highly recommend Taste of the Wild as an alternative to Orijen, as its quality is very nearly as good. Although, I would not recommend it for dogs with joint problems, as it contains no additional ingredients to help with this.
Very popular among dog owners
Good for typical Pitbulls
Includes fruit and vegetables for immune system health
Includes some omega-3s to support joints, thyroid and skin health
Not suitable for more active Pitbulls
No additional ingredients for joint health
Orijen never fails to impress me. Their quality standards are off the chart; the majority of their ingredients are fresh and local, they use hormone-free meats and free-range chicken, and they produce protein-rich recipes.
This particular version has 38% protein, making it ideal for very active or working Pitbulls. The protein content comes from 6 types of fish, meaning it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help our your Pitbull’s thyroid, joint, and skin coat health. Not to mention the varied flavor it must have!
They use butternut squash, pumpkin, and chickpeas to provide grain-free carbs to prevent any allergic reactions.
On top of this, Orijen adds an array of fresh fruits and vegetables to support her immune system, as well as impressive amounts of glucosamine and chondroitin to support her bones and joints.
Orijen is usually pricey in comparison with its competitors, which is what brings it down to number two. If you can afford it, I highly recommend this brand for active Pitbulls.
Very high-quality food
High in protein for very active Pitbulls
Rich in omega-3 fatty acids
A bunch of fruit and veg
Added ingredients for bone and joint health
- Can be expensive for some people
Merrick is another company I admire for using lots of fresh, local ingredients, high-quality protein, and keeping fillers out of their recipes.
This particular recipe is grain-free to prevent allergic reactions and uses salmon as the main protein source, providing those essential omega-3 fatty acids to keep your Pitbull’s joints oiled, her skin healthy and coat shiny, and also to help out her thyroid.
It is fairly high in protein, at 34%, while its fat content is quite low, at 14%. I think this makes the recipe suitable for typical or active Pitbulls, but not for working Pitbulls.
There are a few fruits and vegetables included, as well as a range of vitamins and minerals for her immune system health.
Merrick also provides large amounts of glucosamine and chondroitin for her bone and joint health.
I, therefore, highly recommend this brand as an alternative to Orijen for Pitbulls who suffer from joint problems.
Contains a good amount of omega-3s for her joints, skin, and thyroid
Good for typical and active Pitbulls
Some fruit and veg
Additional ingredients to support her bone and joint health (good affordable alternative to Orijen)
- Some customers have complained about stomach upset, but it seems very rare
This is a limited ingredient dog food, containing only one source of protein (salmon), and no grains, wheat, or gluten. Plus there are no preservatives or artificial additives. This is, therefore, a great food to try your dog on if she has allergies.
In fact, many customers have claimed it has improved their dog’s allergies and skin irritation.
The protein content is just right for a typical Pitbull, at 25%. The fat content is quite low, however, at 12%, making it an ideal food for overweight Pitbulls who need to shed a few pounds, but more active Pitbulls will need more.
This recipe has good amounts of omega-3s to support your Pitbull’s skin health, as well her thyroid and joint function.
While there are no fruit and veg ingredients, there is a multitude of vitamins and minerals included to support her immune system.
I highly recommend this food for Pitbulls with allergies or overweight Pitbulls.
Limited-ingredient food for Pitbulls with allergies
Good for overweight Pitbulls
Omega-3s to support her skin, thyroid and joint health
Many vitamins and minerals included
Low fat - not be suitable for more active Pitbulls
No fresh fruit and veg ingredients
No added ingredients for bone and joint health
The overall winner of my review is Taste of the Wild for its affordable, high-quality recipe and obvious popularity among dog owners. However, it doesn’t cut it if you’re looking for a food to support your dog’s joints.
I highly recommend Orijen for active Pitbulls with joint problems. If you can’t afford it, Merrick is a great alternative. Lastly, Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient is great for Pitbulls with allergies, as well as Pitbulls who need to lose a few pounds.
What do you feed your Pitbull? Leave a comment below!