As responsible dog owners, we all want what’s best for our furry friends, and part of that means feeding them a healthy diet, tailored to their age, health and breed. Pitbulls (an umbrella term that can be used to describe American Pit Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers and American Bulldogs) are no different. These muscular, athletic dogs need a high protein diet that gives them plenty of energy, but avoids common allergens, and there are certain foods which are better designed to meet their nutritional needs.
If you’re not too sure what you should be giving your beautiful bruiser for breakfast, have a read of this buying guide to get to know some of the best dog foods for Pitbulls on the market. Remember, you should always consult your veterinarian before making changes to your dog’s diet, especially if they have any allergies or pre-existing health conditions.
The Best Dog Food for Pitbulls
First on our list, and our top pick of the best foods for young Pitbulls, has to be this Taste of the Wild Grain Free High Protein High Prairie Dry Puppy Food. Specially formulated for puppies, this tasty dry food contains a huge amount of healthy ingredients, including meat, vegetables, egg products and fish oils to provide your pup with a well-rounded, nutritious meal, similar to what they might eat in the wild. This version contains real roasted venison and bison meat, which alongside other ingredients such as pea protein, provide a high level of the protein your growing Pitbull needs, as well as optimal levels of amino acids.
Fruit and vegetable ingredients such as sweet potatoes, peas, tomatoes and blueberries offer your pup lots of antioxidants to support their overall well-being and immune system, whilst the inclusion of salmon oil provides a source of DHA, essential for a healthy brain and eyes. There are a plethora of vitamins and minerals, but none of the grain or wheat fillers often found in lower quality brands, which can upset Pitbulls’ stomachs. There are also no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives, which makes this an all-round safe and nutritious dietary choice for your young Pitbull.
Protein: 28% minimum, Fat: 17% minimum
Made with protein rich venison and bison
Contains antioxidants and DHA for healthy vision and brain
No grain filler, artificial flavors, colors or preservatives
- BrandTaste of the Wild
- Weight30 pounds
Next up is another high quality food based on natural ingredients, and one that is often compared to Taste of the Wild – the Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Grain Free Adult Dog Food. This particular version is their Turkey & Potato recipe, which features de-boned turkey as the first ingredient and single animal protein source. Turkey is an underused ingredient in commercial dog food, but is a good, lean source of protein for your Pitbull. The natural formula also contains carbohydrates, pumpkin to ease digestion and a balance of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, which help maintain a healthy coat and skin.
Blue Buffalo also pack in plenty of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in their patented ‘LifeSource Bits’, whilst steering clear of grains, soy, beef, chicken, dairy and eggs – all of which make this one of the best dog foods for Pitbulls with skin allergies or intolerances to these common irritants. At least one review mentions that this grain-free food was a lifesaver for their 11-year-old Pitbull who suffered from severe skin issues and ear infections. They went from visiting the vet ‘no less than three times a month’ to being vet-free for nearly two years since changing him over to this food. Overall, this is another healthy, high protein dog food for Pitbulls that only just misses out on our top spot.
First ingredient is de-boned turkey, a lean protein
Contains carbohydrates, Omega 3 and 6, vitamins and minerals
Free from grain, soy, beef, chicken, dairy and eggs
Suitable for Pitbulls with allergies
- BrandBlue Buffalo
- Weight24 pounds
In contrast to the above, Orijen Original Dry Dog Food contains multiple sources of meat protein from chicken, turkey, fish and eggs – in fact, these make up 85% of the total ingredients, and contribute to the impressive 38% protein content. Amongst the protein is a carefully balanced amount of meat, organs and bone, again to simulate the kind of diet your dog would have followed in the wild (assuming he wasn’t vegetarian!)
The remaining 15% of the food’s ingredients is derived from fruit, vegetables and botanicals, which provide a good amount of vitamins and minerals. There are no grains, tapioca or plant proteins in the formula, and two thirds of the protein that is present is raw or fresh, so the amount of processing is limited. The high percentage of meat-based proteins probably makes this one of the best dog foods for Pitbulls to gain muscle, or for senior dogs who struggle to digest protein – although you should always verify this with your vet first.
38% protein; 20% carbohydrates
85% of ingredients derived from meat, poultry and eggs
15% of ingredients from fruit, vegetables and botanicals
High protein content suitable for Pitbulls needing to gain muscle
- Weight4.4 pounds
This Wellness Core Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food also features deboned turkey as the first ingredient, along with turkey meal and chicken meal. There are a plenty of fruit and vegetable ingredients, including sweet potato, peas, broccoli and spinach, to provide vitamins and minerals, as well as salmon oil for Omega fatty acids – vital for your Pitbull to have a healthy skin and coat. The formula is free from grain, meat by-products, artificial colors and preservatives.
This is also the reduced fat formula, which contains 25% less fat than the regular Wellness Core food, and might make it particularly suitable if your Pitbull is slowing down, or needs to lose a few pounds. It won’t be the best dog food for Pitbulls to gain weight, or for puppies (it’s intended for adult dogs). Having said this, some reviewers of this food question the recommended amounts from the manufacturer, saying their dog put on weight, so keep an eye on this. More positive reviews praise the food for its high fiber content, which is attributed to helping with a variety of health issues, including anal gland leakage!
Protein from de-boned turkey, turkey meal and chicken meal
Includes antioxidants, Omega fatty acids and probiotics
No grains, meat by-products, artificial colors or preservatives
Reduced fat formula suitable for Pitbull weight management
- BrandWellness Core
- Weight26 pounds
With lean bison meat as its main source of protein, this Earthborn Holistic Great Plains Feast Grain-Free Dry Dog Food is a tasty and high quality food for your Pitbull, as well as being one of the most affordable options on our list. Alongside the bison meal, there’s a healthy mix of fruits and veggies to provide your pup with all the essential nutrients they need. These include blueberries and spinach, proving that sometimes human superfoods are the best for your dog too.
There’s also a healthy balance of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, essential for coat and skin health. At least one review which mentions how soft and shiny their Pitbull’s coat became after feeding them this for two months, and another emphasizes how much this helped with their Pitbull’s skin allergies. The formula is grain free and gluten free, so perfect if your Pitbull is sensitive to these ingredients. It also contains L-cartine, which helps convert fat into muscle, making this one of the best dog foods for Pitbulls to gain muscle on the market.
Contains lean bison meat
Grain free and gluten free
Balance of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids
L-carnitine helps convert fat into muscle
- BrandEarthborn Holistic
- Weight28 pounds
This CANIDAE Grain Free PURE Dry Dog Food has an impressively limited recipe of only 8 ingredients: salmon, salmon meal, menhaden fish meal, sweet potatoes, peas, canola oil, suncured alfafa, and potatoes. The limited amount of ingredients and lack of common allergens such as beef, chicken, eggs and grains make it one of the best dog foods for Pitbulls with skin allergies and food intolerances.
But don’t let the lack of complicated-sounding ingredients fool you – this is one highly nutritious, well-balanced dog food, and is not only for dogs with allergies. Adult dogs will love the taste of this fishy-flavored food and the high amount of protein, vitamins and minerals will keep them happy and healthy. One particularly glowing review comes from the owner of two Staffordshire Bull Terriers, who says this food has positively influenced their behavior, the quality of their coats and their overall health, and hails it as the antidote to the junk food diet that is some commercial grocery store food.
First ingredient is salmon
Limited 8 ingredient recipe
No grains, poultry or egg
Suitable for dogs with certain allergies
- Weight24 pounds
The second dog food from Blue Buffalo on our list is this Wilderness High Protein Grain Free Dry Puppy Food. Unlike the first, this one is designed especially for puppies. As with all Blue Buffalo foods, this one is made from real meat, fruit and vegetables to imitate a dog’s ancestral diet. The main meat ingredient here is deboned chicken, so it won’t be suitable for Pitbulls with poultry allergies, but it is a lean protein source for active puppies who need a high amount of protein.
The presence of fish oil gives your Pitbull pup a source of DHA, which is essential for cognitive development, whilst fish meal and flaxseed provide Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, for healthy skin and joints. At least one review praises this food for helping clear up their Old English Bulldog’s dry skin condition. Finally, the formula is still grain-free, so it’s not bulked out with un-nutritious and potentially irritating filler ingredients.
Made with lean chicken protein
Contains fish and egg product
DHA from fish oil promotes cognitive development
Suitable for active puppies
- BrandBlue Buffalo
- Weight11.25 pounds
This Merrick Grain Free Dry Dog Food is made up of 70% proteins and fats, 30% produce, vitamins and minerals, with an overall protein content of 38%. The first ingredient is de-boned duck, which is supported by turkey meal and salmon meal protein sources. The high level of protein could make this a good senior Pitbull food, as older dogs find it harder to metabolize protein – although some reviews do comment that it gave their dog gas!
It might be worth the potential smells though, because as well as plenty of vitamins and nutrients from fruits and vegetables, this high protein dog food also contains leading levels of Glucosamine and Chondroitin, which help keep your pup’s joints and hips healthy, and is particularly important for warding off bone diseases in senior Pitbulls. Another plus is that because it’s suitable for dogs of all ages, you may not have to transition your pup over to a new food as they get older, avoiding potential stomach upsets caused by a change in diet – although this can also be a negative, as it may mean the food has an excess amount of nutrients, designed to meet the needs of younger and older dogs, that your healthy adult dog doesn’t need.
De-boned duck, turkey meal and salmon meal
High 38% protein content
Contains leading levels of Glucosamine and Chondroitin for joint health
Suitable for dogs of all ages, including senior dogs
- Weight25 pounds
Made with a single animal protein source (venison) this Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Dry Dog Food is designed to provide your pup with easily digestible protein and nutrition for the least amount of ingredients, to limit potential reactions. The overall protein content is a minimum of 20%, which is low compared to others on this list, and might make it suitable for less active adult Pitbulls, or those who are allergic to other protein sources. One review in particular mentions that their Pitbull was suffering with hair loss until their vet suggested they might be allergic to some proteins; after switching to this food, and with the assistance of other allergy medications, the symptoms cleared up.
The limited ingredient formula does however mean there is a lower amount of fruits and vegetables than is found in the other foods on this list. Having said this, the first non-animal ingredient in the formula is sweet potato, a popular choice for natural dog food as it is a good source of fiber, which helps to aid digestion, as well as potassium. It also provides your pup with a healthy dose of carbohydrates, without overdoing it and resorting to grain fillers. With such well chosen ingredients, we might be able to forgive the lack of blueberries!
Single animal protein source of venison
Contains sweet potato to aid digestion
Limited ingredient formula is good for Pitbulls with allergies
No grains, fillers, artificial colors or preservatives
- BrandNatural Balance
- Weight26.4 pounds
The final entrant on our list of the best foods for Pitbulls is this Natural Ultramix Grain-Free Dry Dog Food. With duck as its main protein source, supported by turkey meal, chicken, lamb meal and salmon meal, this food has a high protein content of 38%, so again a good choice for exceedingly active adult Pitbulls and senior dogs – but not suitable for those with fish or poultry intolerances.
There are lots of real pieces of fruit and vegetables in the mix, which give your dog plenty of fiber for healthy digestion, and is something that is praised by multiple reviewers, as they can see the nutritious content for themselves. As with all the foods mentioned here, the formula is completely grain free, and at least one reviewer attributes this to helping clear up her Pitbull’s skin allergies.
Main protein source is duck
Also contains turkey meal, chicken, lamb meal and salmon meal
High 38% protein content
No wheat, corn or soy
- BrandNatural Ultramix
- Model780872 30140 4
- Weight25 pounds
Best Dog Food for Pitbulls Buying Guide
If you’re still not sure which food is the best choice for your beloved Pitbull pup, read on for our full buying guide and FAQ to help you make the call.
Benefits of Feeding Your Pitbull a Healthy Diet
- More energy
Feeding your Pitbull a diet with lots of protein, vitamins and minerals will ensure they have lots of energy to lead an active and healthy lifestyle – enough for all the long walks and games of tug-of-war you have the energy for!
- Prevent or control health conditions
Just as in humans, a healthy diet can help prevent and manage a variety of health issues. For example, bone diseases such as hip dysplasia are common in Pitbulls, but a diet high in Omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce joint pain and swelling, whilst a calorie-controlled diet can help manage weight, relieving pain and other symptoms.
- Avoid allergic reactions
If your Pitbull suffers from food allergies, cutting the ingredients they are intolerant to out of their diet can make a huge difference to their health. Common allergens include beef, poultry, dairy and grains.
- Prevent obesity
Pitbulls are prone to obesity, especially when fed a poor diet or given too many treats. Help to keep your pup a healthy weight by giving him a carefully controlled, nutritious diet that fills him up.
- Shinier coat
A diet high in Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids will help maintain your pup’s skin and fur, alleviating skin conditions and and contributing to a glossy, healthy-looking coat.
- Fewer trips to the vet
A healthier Pitbull means fewer trips to the vet! This will save you time, money and a whole lot of worry, and most importantly means less stress and trauma for your precious pooch.
Nutritional Requirements for Pitbulls
- High protein
Pitbulls are muscular, active dogs, and one of their most important nutritional requirements is a high protein content, which will give them plenty of energy. Food with 20% to 30% protein is ideal for fully grown adults. For puppies and senior Pitbulls (age 8 upwards), you should look for a protein content of up to 40%, as dogs in these age ranges don’t digest protein as effectively as adults. A good high protein dog food for Pitbulls will be based around a fresh, lean meat protein source, such as venison, turkey or duck, with little to no meat by-products.
- High fiber
Fiber is essential for good digestion, allowing your Pitbull to make the most of the nutritious food he’s eating and keeping him regular. It is particularly important for senior dogs, who might struggle to digest and metabolize food effectively. Look for a food with plenty of fruit and vegetable ingredients such as sweet potato, kale and carrots to help aid your pup’s digestion.
Grains such as wheat and corn are often used as fillers in lower-quality commercial dog food, as a cheap way to bulk out the formula. Although dogs can digest grain, its nutritional value is low, and many people believe that as it is not part of a dog’s ancestral diet, it shouldn’t form a major part of a modern day dog’s diet. Grain can also be a food allergen in some Pitbulls, causing symptoms such as skin rashes, vomiting and diarrhea. Try to find a grain-free formula that instead relies on fresh meat, fruit and vegetables as the main ingredients.
- Lots of vitamins and minerals
In order to be healthy, Pitbulls need a diet high in essential vitamins and minerals, including calcium, which promotes growth and strong bones. Vitamins and minerals are mostly found in fruits and vegetables. Often the most nutritious veggies for Pitbulls are the same as those for humans – look for superfoods such as sweet potato, blueberries, spinach and kale, which provide the highest nutrient content per quantity.
- Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids
In order to support healthy bones, joints, skin and coat, your Pitbull needs a diet containing Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. These can be obtained from sources such as oily fish and flaxseeds.
Finally, your Pitbull needs a certain amount of fat in his diet (although not too much, as this can lead to obesity). Look for food that contains 15 – 20% fat, from sources such as chicken fat.
Common Pitbull Health Problems
Skin allergies are possibly the most common Pitbull health problem, attributed to their short coats. Allergic reactions can be triggered by environmental factors, such as pollen or grass, or by certain foods, including beef, dairy, grain and wheat. Symptoms can include sore, red or itchy patches on the skin, runny eyes, ear infections, sneezing, vomiting and diarrhea.
- Bone diseases
Pitbulls are prone to certain bone diseases, including hip dysplasia, kneecap dislocation and degenerative myelopathy. Hip dysplasia affects your Pitbull’s ball and socket hip joint. Symptoms include pain, an uneven gait, difficulty climbing stairs, decreased mobility, and, in extreme cases, lameness.
Cataracts in Pitbulls are not limited to senior dogs – they can be genetic, and thus occur at all ages, including in puppies. Symptoms include clumsiness, eye rubbing, a cloudy eye, and irritation, discharge or redness around the eye.
- Heart defects and disease
Pitbulls can also suffer from congenital heart disease, heart murmurs, and irregular heartbeats. Symptoms for such conditions can include breathing difficulties, weakness, fainting, and weight or behavioral changes.
Obesity is a problem among all dog breeds, with approximately 56% of dogs in the U.S. being overweight or obese. Pitbulls’ muscular frames are prone to obesity, especially if they’re fed a high calorie diet and don’t get enough exercise. Get your pup weighed by your vet regularly to monitor for signs of weight gain.
Best Dog Food for Pitbulls FAQ:
Q: What is the best dog food for Pitbulls with food allergies?
A: The best dog food for a Pitbull with food allergies will depend on what exactly your Pitbull is allergic to, as this is the ingredient(s) you will need to avoid. It can be difficult to isolate exact allergens so this is something you should do in consultation with your vet. Some of the most common ingredients that Pitbulls are allergic to include beef, poultry, dairy, egg and grains. Grain and wheat can be irritating to a Pitbull’s stomach and adds little nutritional value, so a grain-free food is often considered best, as well as one with a limited ingredient formula to minimize potential allergens.
Some of the best dog foods for Pitbulls with allergies on this list are the Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Grain Free Adult Dog Food and the CANIDAE Grain Free PURE Dry Dog Food. Both of these nutritious foods have a limited number of ingredients and avoid the most common allergens of poultry, beef, eggs and grains. You should always ask your vet for advice on what to feed a dog with any allergies or health conditions.
Q: How often should I feed my Pitbull?
A: As a general rule, you should feed your adult Pitbull once or twice a day. A young puppy may need to be fed more often, probably three to five small meals a day. Pitbulls thrive on routine, so it’s a good idea to feed them at the same time each day. Feeding your Pitbull at the same time as the humans in your house can help to distract them from begging for scraps at the table. As Pitbulls are prone to gaining weight, you should keep a close eye on how much and how often you feed them, and not allow them to ‘free feed’ or graze throughout the day. Make sure your pup has access to plenty of fresh water at all times.
Q: How much should I feed my Pitbull?
A: How much you should feed your Pitbull depends on a variety of factors, including their weight, age, how much exercise they get and whether or not they are pregnant. An active adult Pitbull will require more calories than a senior dog aged 8+. To determine how much to give your Pitbull, first consult the guidelines from the manufacturer of your chosen food. There will usually be a weight-based guide, so you can see what bracket your pup is in. You can then make adjustments to this if your pooch is overweight or underweight, or needs a lower calorie diet due to their age. You should do this in consultation with your vet, who will be able to assess your pup’s age, health and lifestyle, and give tailored advice on his specific dietary needs. As a rough guide, a large adult Pitbull might typically consume three cups (8oz each) of dry food a day.
Our Top Pick
There are some delicious and nutritious foods on this list, but if we had to ‘pit’ them against each other, our favorite food for Pitbull puppies has to be the Taste of the Wild Grain Free High Protein High Prairie Dry Puppy Food. This high quality dog food provides well-balanced nutrition based on the ancestral diet your pup would have followed in the wild. The high protein content sourced from real buffalo and venison meat is perfect for Pitbull puppies, who find it harder to digest protein than adults, but need plenty of energy for all their antics! There are lots of fruits and veggies to provide essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and the grain-free formula limits the chances of your Pitbull pup having an upset stomach – although you should always monitor your dog closely for any signs of an allergic reaction when introducing them to a new food for the first time.