When you hear the word “Pitbull” you probably picture a medium-sized dog with a large head, athletic build, and a whip-like tail. What you may not realize, however, is that the word “Pitbull” applies to a type of dog and not a specific breed. In North America, the pure breeds that are lumped into the Pitbull type include the American Staffordshire Terrier, the American Pit Bull Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier and sometimes the American Bulldog. Many of these breeds were originally developed as fighting dogs, resulting from a cross between various terriers and bull-baiting dogs. After such blood sports were banned in the early 1800s, these dogs were used to drive livestock, for various forms of hunting, or kept as family companions.

If you do a little research for any of the pure breeds that are generally lumped into the Pitbull category, you will find that most of them are very friendly, people-oriented dogs. Unfortunately, the name Pitbull carries with it a very negative connotation – these dogs are frequently believed to be aggressive, even dangerous, despite all evidence to the contrary. In fact, many areas have breed-specific legislation that makes it illegal to own a Pitbull. In other areas where it is not illegal to own a Pitbull, dog owners may still be subject to increased premiums for homeowner’s or liability insurance. You may also find that, in many cases that reference the Pitbull name, it is a reference to a specific breed called the American Pitbull Terrier.

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The American Pitbull Terrier is a medium-sized dog with a short, smooth coat and a well-muscled body. These dogs generally stand 17 to 19 inches tall and weigh between 30 and 60 pounds with females being slightly smaller than males. Despite carrying the Pitbull name, this breed is very friendly and people-oriented – they make great family pets and generally get along well with children. These dogs are fairly active and they have an average lifespan of 10 to 15 years. Because of their well-muscled body, these dogs need a lot of protein in their diet. The best way to ensure that your Pitbull’s specific nutritional needs are met is to select a medium-breed or active-breed formula. Keep reading to learn more about the nutritional requirements for Pitbulls and to receive recommendations for quality dog food brands for this wonderful breed.

General Nutritional Recommendations for Pitbulls

When it comes to the nutritional requirements for dogs, the three most important nutrients are protein, fat, and carbohydrate. Dogs are primarily carnivorous by nature (though they are not obligate carnivores like cats), so the majority of their diet should be comprised of animal-based ingredients. The most important nutrient for dogs is protein, a nutrient which is made up of amino acids. There are 23 different amino acids and your dog’s body can synthesize all but 10 of them – these 10 are called essential amino acids because they must come from your dog’s diet. Animal-based proteins like meat, poultry, fish, and eggs are all considered complete proteins because they contain all 10 essential amino acids. For puppies, protein is essential for healthy growth and development and, for adult dogs, for maintaining lean muscle mass.

After protein, the second most important nutrient for dogs is fat. There are many different kinds of fat, each with their own unique benefits. Omega fatty acids help to support your dog’s healthy skin and coat while other essential fatty acids provide immune support and a concentrated source of energy. The Merck Veterinary Manual recommends a minimum protein content for adult dogs of 18% and 22% for puppies, with a 5% minimum of fats for adults and 8% for puppies. Like proteins, fats in your dog’s diet should come primarily from animal-based sources to ensure that they have high bioavailability. Some of the best fats for your dog include things like chicken fat and salmon oil – plant-based fats like flaxseed and canola oil can be used to balance out the fatty acid content but animal-based sources are always best for dogs.

Because dogs are primarily carnivorous, they do not have a minimum requirement for carbohydrate in their diet. Dogs have fairly short digestive systems so their ability to digest plant products is limited – this means that any carbohydrate in their diet must come from digestible sources. This includes things like whole grains (for dogs that aren’t sensitive or allergic) and grain-free options like starchy vegetables, beans, and legumes. Carbohydrates help to provide your dog with dietary fiber to support his digestive system, but there is such a thing as too much carbohydrate, so be careful. Other ingredients that should be included in your dog’s diet include vitamin and mineral supplements as well as probiotics.

Special Dietary and Nutritional Concerns

As a medium-sized breed, it can be tricky to find the right balance of calories and nutrients for the American Pitbull Terrier. Like all dogs, this breed needs a healthy diet comprised primarily of protein to help him maintain his lean muscle mass. If your Pitbull is particularly energetic, or if you plan to train him for various dog sports, he may also need additional calories in the form of higher fat content. The average adult dog needs about 30 calories per pound of bodyweight. For a Pitbull that weighs 30 pounds, that equates to a daily calorie intake of about 900 calories. If your Pitbull weighs closer to 60 pounds, he may need closer to 1,800 calories.

To find the right balance of calories and nutrients for your Pitbull, your best bet is to feed him a high-quality diet formulated for medium- to large-breed dogs. If your Pitbull is on the lower end of the weigh spectrum for his breed, a medium-breed specific formula should provide the ideal ratio of protein to fat. For Pitbulls at the higher end of the spectrum, your dog may benefit from a higher protein content with moderate fat content. Because it can be difficult to strike the perfect caloric balance for dogs, you should follow the feeding recommendations on the pet food label according to your dog’s weight. Maintain that for a few weeks while monitoring your dog’s bodyweight and condition, then make adjustments as needed. If your Pitbull loses too much weight or becomes lethargic, you may need to feed him more or switch him to an active breed formula. If your dog gains an unhealthy amount of weight, you might need to cut back on his daily ration.

In addition to making special dietary changes for your Pitbull based on his weight and activity level, you should also take into account a few medical concerns. For example, Pitbulls are prone to musculoskeletal issues like hip and elbow dysplasia. Offering your dog a diet that includes supplementary glucosamine and chondroitin can help to support your dog’s bones and joints. Pitbulls are also prone to food allergies, particularly to low-quality grains and fillers. To solve this problem, offer your Pitbull a grain-free diet or a limited ingredient diet if you know exactly what he is allergic to. When using a limited ingredient diet, be sure to feed your Pitbull only that for 12 weeks or as long as it takes for all signs of the allergy to disappear before you try another food.

Finally, Pitbulls have a tendency to eat very quickly without chewing – this puts them at risk not just for choking, but also for a dangerous condition called bloat in which the abdomen fills with air, causing the stomach to twist on its axis. This cuts of blood flow to the stomach and other vital organs which can be fatal. To help reduce your dog’s risk for bloat you may want to divide his daily ration into smaller portions, feeding him three small meals per day instead of one or two larger meals. It may also help to feed your Pitbull from a slow-feed bowl that forces him to slow down when eating. Avoid feeding Pitbulls from elevated bowls because this can increase the risk for bloat.

What is the Best Dog Food for my Pitbull?

The Pitbull is not one of the largest breeds out there, but these dogs are all muscle. This, combined with the fact that many Pitbulls are high-energy dogs, means that you need to be very careful when choosing your dog’s diet. The ideal diet for an adult Pitbull will be rich in high-quality protein to support the dog’s lean muscle mass with moderate fat content for energy and skin/coat health. Like all dogs, Pitbulls can be prone to obesity so you need to tread carefully in walking the line between feeding your dog enough and feeding him too much. Just follow the feeding recommendations on the label and watch your dog’s weight and condition. If he gains too much weight you’ll need to cut back but, if he loses weight or energy, you might need to feed him a little more. Below you will find reviews for several high-quality dog food formulas that could be a good choice for your Pitbull:

Precise Holistic Complete Small and Medium Breed Adult Dry Food: If your Pitbull is on the smaller end of the size spectrum for this breed, this Precise Holistic Complete Small and Medium Breed Adult Dry Food might be a good option. This dry food offers 27% protein and 17% fat from high-quality, natural ingredients. Made with chicken and chicken meal as the first two ingredients, you can rest assured knowing that this formula will meet your Pitbull’s needs for protein and it also provides plenty of digestible carbohydrates in the form of brown rice, oatmeal, and barley. This small and medium-breed recipe contains dried fruits and vegetables as natural sources for key nutrients and it is supplemented with glucosamine and chondroitin to support your dog’s healthy bones and joints. It is also full of natural flavor!

Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Turkey & Potato Recipe: Pitbulls are one of several breeds that have a high risk for food allergies. If your dog suffers from allergies or sensitivities, you may want to consider this Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Turkey & Potato Recipe. This recipe is made with a limited number of simple ingredients which provide your dog with all of the healthy nutrients he needs and nothing he doesn’t. With deboned turkey as the first ingredient, you can rest assured that this recipe will meet your dog’s needs for quality protein without any low-quality fillers. This formula contains peas and potatoes as digestible carbohydrates, plus it is supplemented with Blue Buffalo’s LifeSource Bits which contain a special blend of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants for nutritional support and healthy oxidative balance.

Annamaet Extra 26% Protein Adult Dog Food: The Annamaet Dog Food Company is not one of the biggest names in the industry, but they do produce some high-quality products. All of Annamaet’s products are free from corn, wheat, and soy ingredients, made with premium proteins and healthy supplements. This particular recipe is focused around chicken meal, brown rice, sorghum, and chicken fat – four high-quality ingredients which hit all three of the most important nutrient categories for dogs. With 26% protein ad 16% fat, this recipe is perfect for active and working dogs who need plenty of protein to maintain lean muscle mass as well as healthy fats for concentrated energy. This recipe is also supplemented with chelated minerals and a balance of omega fatty acids.

What is the Best Dog Food for Pitbull Puppies?

As a medium-sized breed, Pitbull puppies grow very quickly and they generally reach their maximum size around 12 to 18 months. While they are young, Pitbull puppies require a great deal of protein to fuel their growth and development, plus plenty of fat for immune support, energy, and skin/coat health. The best way to make sure that your Pitbull puppy gets the energy and nutrients he needs to grow, select a high-quality puppy food for him. If you can find it, a medium-breed specific puppy food might be a good choice as well. Below you will find reviews for several high-quality dog food formulas that could be a good choice to consider for your Pitbull puppy:

NutriSource Small & Medium Breed Puppy Chicken & Rice Formula: To make sure that your Pitbull puppy’s life gets started on the right foot, consider this NutriSource Small & Medium Breed Puppy Chicken & Rice Formula. This is one of few products on the market which are designed for medium-sized breeds and it contains plenty of fresh, natural ingredients. This formula combines fresh chicken and chicken meal as the primary sources of protein with digestible carbohydrates like brown rice and oatmeal – it also provides a balance of essential fatty acids. Because this recipe is full of digestible ingredients you can rest assured that your puppy’s digestive system won’t waste any extra energy – this gives your puppy more energy to fuel his healthy growth and development. Plus, it is full of natural flavor!

Precise Naturals Small & Medium Breed Puppy Formula: This Precise Naturals Small & Medium Breed Puppy Formula is an all-natural product featuring a whopping 29% protein and 19% fat. Made with chicken meal as the primary ingredient, it is no wonder that the protein content is so high. This recipe also includes digestible carbohydrates like ground brown rice and oatmeal, with beet pulp and flaxseed included as supplementary sources of dietary fiber. If you are looking for a high-quality formula designed to meet the unique nutritional needs of medium-sized puppies, this is definitely a great option to consider.

Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Puppy Formula: The Taste of the Wild brand produces high-quality diets that are inspired by the natural diets of wild wolves. This Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Puppy Formula is a grain-free formula made with high-quality proteins like salmon and ocean fish meal and digestible carbohydrates like sweet potatoes and peas. This formula offers 27% protein to help support your Pitbull puppy’s growth and development with 15% fat for concentrated energy. It is also supplemented with fresh fruits and vegetables for natural vitamins and minerals as well as probiotics to support your puppy’s healthy and regular digestion. What more could you ask for?

Although the Pitbull has a bad reputation, these dogs are some of the most loving and loyal canine companions you will ever meet. As a Pitbull owner, you have a responsibility to the breed to help dispel the myths and misconceptions that support prejudice against the breed. As a dog owner in general, it is also your job to make sure that your Pitbull gets the nutrients and energy he needs. When shopping for a new food for your Pitbull, be sure to choose a product made with high-quality ingredients including plenty of protein and moderate fat content. If you need help getting started with your search, consider one of the top recommended brands of medium-breed or active-breed puppy or adult dog food reviewed above.

Kate Barrington

Kate Barrington holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and is the published author of several self-help books and nutrition guides. Also an avid dog lover and adoring owner of three cats, Kate’s love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care and nutrition. Kate holds a certificate in fitness nutrition and enjoys writing about health and wellness trends — she also enjoys crafting original recipes. In addition to her work as a ghostwriter and author, Kate is also a blogger for a number of organic and natural food companies as well as a columnist for several pet magazines.

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  • My pit suffers with extremely sensitive skin issues- some of it caused by food allergies, turkey and fish, some of it environmental. Though I hoped to find more specific information about recommended food choices, your article is helpful to owners of this breed.

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