Pitbull terriers or simply pitbulls are one of the most intriguing canine breeds. They are largely depicted as very vicious animals, very aggressive against other dogs as well as to other humans. Pit bulls are also depicted in the media as having locking jaws that add to their viciousness. Unfortunately, many of these characterizations are considered myths by animal experts and can be easily disproven by those who have worked closely with these breeds. If any, pit bulls are well-known for their determination. If trained properly and given the correct nutrition and guidance, these ‘super vicious’ dogs can actually be considered as one of the most valuable breeds. Since optimum health starts with good nutrition, it is important to take a closer look at what constitutes the best and most appropriate diet for a Pit Bull terrier.
What makes the Taste of the Wild’s Canine Formula so uniquely interesting for pit bull terriers is that it comes in amazingly unique and novel proteins. Instead of relying solely on the usual chicken or beef, Taste of the Wild really brings to each pack of the Canine Formula one of the best pitbull protein diets you could ever give to your pooch.
For starters, the TOTW Canine Formula contains not less than 32 percent of proteins which is more than the minimum recommended protein intake of pit bull terriers at 25 percent, peaking at 50 percent for the very active ones. The novel protein source is another plus as it gives the TOTW a very safe hypoallergenic profile since many of these proteins are not yet fully recognized by the immune system of pit bulls as necessarily allergenic. Moreover, the choice of meat proteins is simply superb as venison, boar, salmon, lamb, wildfowl, and a blend of venison and bison can truly make for a very interesting food for pit bulls. The flavors of each of these meats are locked into each kibble.
The fat content of the TOTW is also well within the recommended daily intake of 15 to 25 percent. The TOTW contains at least 18 percent fat. Compared to the other 4 in our list, the TOTW has the right to call itself the best dog food for pitbulls to gain weight because of its higher fat content. Additionally, choosing its salmon variety should give your pitbull terrier more health benefits because of the higher levels of DHA and EPA which are very important in brain and eye health and against inflammation, respectively. The DHA content of the TOTW Canine Formula should be especially beneficial to your pitbull pup.
As for its carbohydrate content, the TOTW Canine Formula is blended with a variety of fruits and vegetables that provide for its exceptional nutrient profile including zinc, selenium, and vitamin E. The antioxidant mix in this Taste of the Wild pitbull dog food should help ensure healthier coats and skin while reducing the incidence of inflammation in your pooch. It is also grain free so folks who are worried about having their pit bulls getting upset stomach can rest assured that the hypoallergenic nature of its novel protein formulation is safeguarded by the exclusion of allergenic grains like wheat, soy, and corn. Instead, the TOTW comes with healthier wholesome carbs like peas and sweat potatoes.
The TOTW Canine Formula promises to provide exceptional nutrition to your pit bull terrier. And thousands of happy customers agree.
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Single main ingredient formulation
Uses novel hypoallergenic proteins
Grain free formulation
Enriched with DHA and EPA as well as antioxidants and anti-inflammatories
Has the backing of thousands of happy and satisfied dog owners
Featuring its proprietary blend of antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, vitamins, and minerals in every kibble, the BLUE Wilderness Adult Grain Free Chicken Dry Dog Food makes its way into our list of the 5 best dog foods for pitbulls. BLUE Wilderness prides itself of being able to promote healthier muscle development and greater energy for your active pitbull. It also provides for healthier joints and stronger bones and teeth while improving the coat and skin of your pit bull terrier. Additionally, its mix of vitamins and minerals, together with its antioxidants, help boost your terrier’s ability to ward off infections.
A closer look at its protein content suggests that BLUE Wilderness has slightly more proteins than the TOTW at 34 percent, making it a great pitbull protein source. However, it is quite mind-boggling since its formulation is supposed to be grain-free, implying that it wants to get rid of the allergenic potential of these food items. Sadly, it would seem it misses the point about allergies since it still uses chicken as its principal source of protein; although it also lists fish meal as one of its sources. Chicken, as we all know, is an allergen. BLUE Wilderness may have removed allergenic grains but it surely didn’t make any effort to remove the allergenicity of chicken.
It makes up for it in including glucosamine in its formulation, however. This substance is important in ensuring optimum health of the joints. So, if your pitbull is suffering from joint problems such as arthritis, then the glucosamine inclusion should be helpful.
BLUE Wilderness has a lower fat content than TOTW at 15 percent. Nevertheless, this is still within the minimal recommended fat content for pit bull terriers. It also has omega-3 fatty acids for added benefits.
Like TOTW, BLUE Wilderness sources its carbs from wholesome veggies and fruits so your pitbull can derive many of its vitamins and minerals from.
High protein content
No artificial ingredients, fillers, and allergenic grains
Blended with fruits and veggies
The principle espoused by Natural Balance in its Sweet Potato & Fish Formula is the limitation of ingredients to help minimize the allergenic potential of the dog food. Like TOTW, Natural Balance did not include chicken in its formulation. Neither did it include allergenic grains. Instead, it focused its formulation to 2 very simple ingredients: fish and sweet potatoes.
It is also perhaps because of this limited ingredient approach that Natural Balance has a much lower protein and fat content at 21 percent and 10 percent, respectively. Pitbull protein diets require at least 25 percent, making Natural Balance not quite up to the standards for a pit bull terrier. However, if your dog happens to suffer from a kidney problem, then this lower protein content should help remove the stress off its kidneys.
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Natural Balance also comes with exceptional DHA levels, vitamins, and minerals to help promote better health for your pooch.
Limited ingredient formulation
Free from allergenic grains and meats
No artificial substances added
This pitbull dog food from Wellness CORE is a contender in our list of the 5 best dog foods for pitbulls in that it comes with more variety in its protein sources than BLUE Wilderness, but still runs short of the accomplishment of TOTW. Its protein profile is similar to the BLUE Wilderness at 34 percent. However, its fat content is a lot more similar to Natural Balance at 12 percent. It still packs the same nutrient content as the BLUE Wilderness, though, including the addition of chondroitin and glucosamine. These 2 substances are important for promoting and maintaining optimum joint health.
Wellness CORE is available in various blends of oceanic fishes, wild game, and poultry that include chicken and turkey. If you want to take full advantage of its grain-free formulation, you’re better off picking any but the chicken and turkey variant.
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High protein content sourced from a variety of meats
Enriched with glucosamine and chondroitin
Uses only premium ingredients
If you’re looking for the best dog food for pitbulls to gain weight, you’re better off with the TOTW than the natural Large Breed 60+ Formula from Diamond Pet Foods. Its fat content is significantly lower at 13 percent, although slightly higher than Wellness CORE. Its protein content is higher than Natural Balance at 23% and features the same chondroitin and glucosamine formulations in the Wellness CORE. Our only lament is that it is only available in lamb & rice and chicken preparations. While it doesn’t explicitly say that it is gluten-free, the absence of wheat, soy, and corn should lead you to believe that it is free from allergenic grains. However, it includes more wholesome, healthier grains like brown rice and barley.
Contains glucosamine and chondroitin
Uses only premium quality natural ingredients
Enriched with vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals
Feeding a Pit Bull terrier, also known as American Staffordshire terrier, pretty much follows the same guideline as in any other breed of dog. The amount of food you give it depends typically on its size, age, metabolism, activity level, and even build. That being said, you really cannot expect your pitbull to have exactly the same amount of food and frequency of feeding as the pitbull of your neighbor or your friend. They are like us, too. Each dog is inherently different from another pooch of the same breed and from other breeds.
The activity level of dogs is, without a doubt, a very important determinant in how much foodstuff you have to give it. Also important is the quality of the feed that you’re providing it. You may be giving a lot of food every time but your pit bull simply isn’t getting the right amounts of nutrients, leading to more frequent feedings or significantly greater amounts of foodstuff per feeding. There are a variety of factors that we simply have to consider in our approach to giving our pit bull terriers the best food for them.
As such, we have prepared this comprehensive pitbull dog food buying guide to help you decide for your mutt the kind of food it needs to receive including how much and how frequent the feeding should be. Hopefully, towards the end of this article, you would have gained enough knowledge to provide your beloved pit bull the kind of nutrition it truly deserves.
As we shall be presenting to you in the succeeding sections, the amount of food that you are going to feed your pitbull actually depends on a variety of factors. As much as we would like to be overly simplistic about it, there really is no dog food that is custom-made for a specific breed for the simple reason that members of the same breed can still have substantially different caloric and nutrient requirements.
For example, a pregnant bitch will typically require more nutrients than a healthy adult male pitbull owing to the fact that it has several puppies that are depending on the mom to provide them with the necessary nutrients for fetal development. The same is true with pit bull terrier puppies. Because they are growing at a very rapid pace, their nutrient requirements are substantially greater than those required by adults and senior dogs.
The point we would like to make is that we cannot really tell you a very definitive answer as to how much you should feed your pitbull. This is because, first, we don’t know what kind of pit bull terrier you have. How old is it? Is it already neutered? Is it pregnant? Does it have metabolic problems like obesity and diabetes? Does it have other health problems that may require an adjustment in the amount of food that it needs? Also, where does your pooch live? Does it live in a relatively cold place like somewhere in Minnesota or a warm and humid place in Florida? How about its activity level? Does it go on exercise every day? If so, what are the activities that it usually engages in and how long does it usually perform these?
As you can see, it is quite difficult to come up with a definitive figure. How much food do you need to feed your pitbull? It actually depends on a lot of things. Let us just put an average then which is usually around 1,100 kCal per day. Again, this is just the average. It doesn’t mean that this is also what your pitbull should be getting.
As we shall see later on, the best kind of diet for a pitbull or for any dog for that matter is one that has a good mix of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Proteins are especially important for pit bull terriers as these macronutrients are necessary for building and maintaining the integrity of their muscles as well as other organs. We all know that pit bulls are highly regarded for their muscular build. That is why a diet that is high in high-quality proteins is a must.
Not to be outdone is the fat content of their diet. Pit bulls can benefit from healthy fats as these are important constituents of the structures of the nervous system as well as the skin and hair. These are also essential in ensuring the more efficient absorption of certain vitamins that are largely dependent on the presence of fat molecules for transportation. Without fat, your pitbull will not be able to digest and absorb these vitamins and thus, will not be used by the body.
Carbohydrates are needed as the principal source of energy, although it is not uncommon for fat molecules to be used up as well. Since pit bull terriers lead a generally active lifestyle, they need energy to sustain their physical activities. If they cannot get this from carbs and fats, then they will have to derive the energy from proteins. If this happens, they lose their muscles. Have you seen a skinny pit bull terrier? Does it look good?
Most experts recommend the following composition of nutrients for a pit bull terrier.
Keep in mind that this nutritional composition is just the recommendation for a generally healthy adult pit bull terrier.
As we have already hinted in the preceding sections, the nutritional requirements of your pit bull terrier are largely dependent on its activity level as well as general body size. However, their calorie requirements are also affected by the following:
Technically, what this means is that no two dogs are exactly alike even in the food that they eat. One may need a higher calorie requirement than another depending on how these different factors affect or impact one another. That being said, it is important to understand how the calorie requirements of any given dog can be determined.
The calorie intake of your pit bull can be determined by computing for its Resting Energy Requirement or RER. This is the total amount of calories needed by your pit bull to stay healthy at rest and within a normal environmental temperature. This is almost similar to the Resting Metabolic Rate or RMR in humans. There are two ways in which the RER can be computed. These are as follows.
Unfortunately, your pitbull will not be resting all day and all night as it will stand up, run, bark, pant, do a lot of exercises, and a whole lot more. So, our RER value has to be adjusted to account for these activities as well as other physiologic parameters. Here are some helpful computations.
That being said, in our first example above with RER value of 1,270 kilocalories per day, you will need to adjust this to 2,286 kCal/day if it is healthy and unneutered; 2,032 kilocalories if neutered; and 1,778 kilocalories/day if obese.
Now let us apply what we have learned to the actual nutrient requirements of a pitbull terrier. Generally, all dogs require 6 fundamental nutrients for optimum health. These are the following.
Do take note that only the first three (3) macronutrients provide the energy for your dog. The other 3 – water, vitamins, and minerals – don’t contain calories. Nevertheless, these are very important elements to maintaining a healthier profile for your pit bull terrier.
We shall have different presentations for each of these important macro and micro nutrients in the following sections. It should be sufficient to understand that pit bull terriers or any other dog for that matter require the following nutrient compositions.
You may have noticed the term ‘metabolizable energy’ or ME. This is the portion of energy present in a diet that is actually retained in the body. For example, in human nutrition, a gram of protein contains 4 calories or energy molecules. However, the actual amount of calories or energy that is present in the body after all the various physiologic processes have been factored into the equation is actually less than 4 calories. In dogs, it was found out that every gram of protein and carbohydrates typically contain about 3.5 calories of metabolizable energy or ME, a reduction of 0.5 calories. For every gram of fat, this is equivalent to 8.5 calories ME.
Proteins are very important in the formation and maturation of structural as well as protective tissues. The amino acids contained in proteins are major components of hormones, enzymes, as well as different body secretions. As we have already shared above, a gram of protein provides about 3.5 calories.
But here’s the major issue in proteins. Since these are essentially composed of a variety of amino acids, no single food source actually contains all of the essential amino acids that are not produced by the pit bull’s body. They call these essential since they have to be derived from external sources as they cannot be manufactured by the body itself. Having said that, to complete the essential amino acid profile needed by your dog, various sources of proteins must be included in your pitbull’s diet. As such, an ideal pitbull dog food is one that contains as many different sources of proteins possible so that the deficiencies in one food item can be filled by another.
For instance, while you may think that soy protein is largely allergenic, this actually contains certain amino acids that are not found in other protein sources. The same is true with corn protein. It contains amino acids not found in soy proteins. So, if you combine them together, you get a better amino acid profile.
The trick is for the amino acids to be well-balanced in the diet so that excesses will be avoided and deficiencies are met. The specific requirements for a pitbull protein diet therefore should be:
For pit bulls, the best source of protein will still be those coming from meats such as beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, and fish. However, there is a growing market for using meat meals which are a combination of whole meats providing a higher concentration of proteins. For puppies of pit bull terriers, it is imperative that they receive substantially higher amounts of proteins. More importantly, however, is the fact that they require highly digestible proteins which can be supplied by eggs and muscle meats.
According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), the following are the minimum protein requirements of a pit bull terrier
As for the recommendations of the National Research Council,
The ideal pitbull protein intake is between 25 and 30 percent, although highly active pooches can really benefit from about 40 to 50 percent proteins.
However, it is important not to give too much protein to your pooch, too, as anything in excess can have serious consequences. For instance, while the liver of your pitbull can handle any increase in protein intake, its kidneys may not be able to handle this elevated protein very well, leading to a variety of kidney problems. That’s why dogs with kidney problems are always given low protein diets.
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If you are going to closely examine many of today’s dog foods, you will notice that they have unusually high carbohydrate content. Unfortunately, most manufacturers will not even identify the correct proportion of carbs in their preparations. What you will see is only the maximum amount of fiber contained in the product. Keep in mind that fiber is only one type of carbohydrate that has a slightly different function from carbohydrates. Technically, it is an insoluble form of carbohydrate that doesn’t provide any significant amount of calories.
Here’s the tip: high fiber diets are great for pooches that overeat and lead a rather sedentary lifestyle. But, if you’re looking at the perfect food for your energetic pit bull, you will need a low fiber diet and more of the soluble type of carbs.
The carbohydrates found in many pit bulldog foods come from fruits and vegetables, although wholesome grains are also often included. The beauty of wholesome grains is that they are naturally rich in certain amino acids in addition to complex carbohydrates that are more beneficial, health-wise, than simple sugars like glucose and fructose.
The current recommendation is to provide between 25 and 30 percent carbs in your pitbull’s diet. Again, depending on the activity level of your pooch, you can somehow tweak this recommendation to be slightly higher. Remember, the main function of carbs is to supply the energy needed by your pit bull. If it is highly active, then it needs more energy. If you give it fewer carbs, then it may not have enough energy to last its activities. Now guess where it will get the energy – from the proteins in the muscles, of course.
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Dietary fats needed by your pitbull primarily consist of triglycerides that come with different levels of glycerol and free fatty acids. There are a lot of misconceptions about fats in the diet, often perceived to be an unnecessary ‘evil’. As we have already mentioned above, fats are important when it comes to ensuring the integrity of cells as they form part of the cell wall or cell membrane. We all know that water and oil don’t mix. This principle works exceptionally well in the cell.
Since fats make up a part of the cell wall, they create a protective barrier wherein water molecules are not able to go in or out of the cell, except through specific channels. Just imagine if there is no lipid barrier and the cell can literally be filled with water and burst if the pressure outside it is higher than the one inside the cell. On the other hand, if the pressure outside it is lower, then water will move out of the cell causing the cell to shrink.
And since all organs of the body are made up of cells, their integrity is kept by lipids.
Fats are also important in the development of the nervous system. This is especially true for the essential fatty acid known as docosahexaenoic acid or DHA. These are also important in the production of leukotrienes and prostaglandins that are mediators of inflammation. Fats are also needed to help in the digestion and absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Otherwise, your pet pit bull terrier will not be able to utilize these vitamins to the fullest. And because such vitamins are not absorbed by the body, they stay in the blood and lead to the development of vitamin toxicity.
According to the AAFCO guidelines, the following recommendations can be observed in deciding on the proportion of fats to include in the diet of pit bull terriers.
As for the NRC Guidelines, the following can be observed.
Ideally, however, pit bull terriers require about 15 to 25 percent fat in their diets.
We also mentioned about the role of DHA in brain development, especially among puppies. This makes them a lot easier to train. Also important is EPA or eicosahexaenoic acid which is believed to play a role in the treatment of canine health problems associated with the skin, gastrointestinal tract, and kidneys as well as in the management of certain cancer, issues with lipid metabolism, and arthritis. The current NRC recommendation is 0.13 grams per 1,000 kCal ME and 0.11 grams per 1,000 kCal ME for puppies and adults, respectively.
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Contrary to popular belief, vitamins and minerals are not exclusively found in fruits and vegetables. There is this notion that meats only contain fats and proteins when in fact, these are packed with minerals and vitamins, too. However, there are certain micronutrients that are naturally richer or more abundant in fruits and veggies.
Some of the minerals that are crucial for your developing pitbull include calcium, iron, and phosphorus. Iron is especially important as it provides the backbone for the synthesis of hemoglobin, the transport molecule of oxygen in red blood cells. Calcium and phosphorus are critical in the continuing development of the skeletal system.
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Regardless of how tough pit bull terriers are the risk of developing food allergies is ever-present. This is especially true for these breeds of dogs as they require high protein diets. Most allergens are proteins in nature. That is why it is often critical to identify the triggering allergen in their food. This is usually accomplished by introducing single-ingredient recipes into their diet over a course of several weeks to help determine if an allergic reaction takes place or not. If nothing happens, then the food item is considered safe. If there’s an allergic reaction, then this food item can be ticked off in the list of safe pitbull dog food items to eat.
Many folks are worried about allergenic grains like wheat, soy, and corn. Yet they seem to forget that chicken and beef are equally allergenic. The reason is quite simple. Both types of food – grains and meats – are excellent sources of protein. We already know that protein-rich foods have almost the same allergenic potential. As a matter of fact, wheat is right in the top 5 food allergens alongside beef and chicken. That said, you may have a grain-free dog food but if it still contains chicken or any other allergenic food item, then the risk for developing allergies is still present.
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In our review of the 5 best dog foods for pitbulls, three products really stood out: the TOTW, the Wellness CORE, and the BLUE Wilderness. Unfortunately, only the Taste of the Wild Canine Formula really won our hearts for its clear understanding of the real nutrient requirements of pit bull terriers. It has an excellent balance of proteins and fats that are considerably high for the very active lifestyle of pitbulls as well as their inherent need for stronger muscles and well-developed nervous system.
But what really sold us in is their understanding of allergies in dogs. They managed to get rid of allergenic grains as well as well-known allergenic meats like chicken and beef. Unfortunately, the other two products, while they did label themselves as grain free dog food, somehow still managed to include an allergenic meat protein in their respective formulations. Natural Balance had the same idea in mind as TOTW. Unfortunately, it was limited in its options.
For that, we give the plum of the best dog food for pitbulls to the Taste of the Wild Canine Formula. Be sure to find out more by reading our dog food buying guides.