What Should I Feed My Pit Bull?

Is your pittie fond of his dinner? Or is he a picky eater? What is his favorite treat?

Choosing an appropriate diet for your dog can be rather tricky, and almost everyone has an opinion. 

But we want you to know as much as you can about what should be included in a pit bull’s diet so that you can make an informed decision about the best meal plan - Both for their health and your budget. 

a pitbull eating a bone

Breed Specific Nutritional Needs

At the end of the day, almost all dogs have the same dietary needs. However, pit bulls are genetically predisposed to specific health issues that may affect their food intake.

For example, they are likelier to experience allergies and related complications such as inflammation or stomach troubles. This may mean that you need to take extra care when introducing a new food or buying food that is allergy specific.

Fighting Allergies

Fighting allergies may mean that you need to avoid specific proteins or ingredients. Most dog food should include an ingredient list.

If in doubt, you can always try a hydrolyzed-protein dog food. This is a specific kind of food where the protein has been broken down into amino acids. This ensures your dog can still get the nutrition they need without the adverse effects.

a healthy, well fed pitbull

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Healthy Skin

Aside from allergies which can cause rashes and itching, pit bulls can also develop skin issues from having such short coats.

Pit bulls benefit from eating dog food high in Omega-3s and other omega fatty acids since it helps them maintain better skin and coat health. Chicken fat can also be a good way to add oils.

Omega-3s can be found in fortified dog foods, supplements, and fish. If your pit bull can eat fish like sardines, you can include them in their diet. Otherwise, a simple drizzle of doggy omega oils can suffice.

Omega fatty acids can also give a huge immune boost and help with joint health.

What's in Dog Food Anyway?

You are what you eat. This is also true for your pit bull. The best dog food should contain a minimal amount of artificial flavors or additives.

When it comes to your pit bull's diet, regular kibble can be a good baseline. The two main basic components of any dog food are: 

1. Carbohydrates

Carbs make the world work. They are the primary means of getting energy for most mammals and should form the basis of any dog food.

However, there are healthy carbs and unhealthy carbs. Refined gluten-based flours like bread should be avoided where possible.

Pay attention to the carbs in your dry dog food. Or if you are making your own dog food, you can add carbs by including brown rice, sweet potato, barley, or oats for healthy digestion.

What About Grains?

Some owners express concern over a diet heavy in grains, especially given pit bull’s tendency towards allergies.

However, grain-free diets have potentially been linked to heart disease in some dogs.

Keeping grain to a small portion and using whole grains might be the best option. Using one single grain instead of a mixed selection, such as only brown rice, may also help.

a bowl of pitbull kebble

2. Protein

Protein is an essential nutrient in dog food and one of the most important in maintaining coat health and muscle mass. Almost all dog breeds are meat-preferring omnivores. Meaning that meat and protein should be the basis of their diet - but that they can and should eat more than that to be healthy.

Pit bulls, especially some breeds such as the American Pitbull Terrier, tend to be naturally muscular and require a somewhat high-protein diet.

There are many kinds of proteins to choose from, such as chicken meal, beef mince, fish, etc. Just ensure the meat is free from excess seasonings, salt, and other harmful hormones or chemicals. 

While a pit bull can eat raw meat, it is generally safer to cook the meat to avoid bacterial infections and worms.

Pit bulls can also eat other protein sources, such as cooked beans or lentils (however, never raw beans, baked beans, or fava/broad beans). Small amounts of milk can be beneficial but can also cause tummy upsets and weight gain.

Many owners believe that their pit bulls only require meat and meat products to survive, but dogs are not obligate carnivores (the kind that solely eats meat) and require more than that to be healthy.

Do Pit Bulls Need Vegetables?

As mentioned earlier, most domestic dogs are more omnivorous than true carnivores. Many pit bulls benefit from the inclusion of healthy vegetables into their diet.[2]

While many wet and dry dog food brands include some vegetable matter, they normally focus primarily on protein and carbs, meaning that your pit bull could miss out on some essential nutrients.

Vegetables that pit bulls may enjoy and benefit from include-

  • Broccoli
  • Zucchini
  • Green beans
  • Carrots
  • Spinach
  • Sweet potato

Many dogs also enjoy certain fruits, such as coreless apples and strawberries, though these can cause stomach upsets if eaten excessively. While many of these vegetables can be eaten raw, cooking them will make it easier and more appetizing for your dog.

Never give a dog any vegetables from the onion family (Onions, garlic, leeks, etc.) or avocados. 

I’m A Vegetarian - Can My Pit Bull Be Vegetarian Too?

While it's understandable to want to align your values with your furry friend, it's important to remember that dogs, including Pit Bulls, have specific dietary needs. Unlike humans, they are natural carnivores, so going full vegetarian might not be the best choice for their overall health and well-being.

While technically, a dog can survive on a vegetarian diet, it will take a lot of careful planning and research on your part. Fortunately, there are vegetarian options available that incorporate plant-based ingredients while still providing the essential nutrients your pup requires. However, it is important to note that supplements should never replace a balanced diet, and some deficiencies may take a long time to show symptoms and even longer to correct.

Ingredients To Avoid

a dog staring at a piece of pizza

Always be careful when giving a dog ‘human food.’ As many contain dangerous ingredients that are not safe for dogs.

Even small amounts of Xylitol (sweetener), chocolate, or alcohol can make pit bulls very ill. And many foods also contain sugar levels that are very fattening and damaging when eaten regularly.

Other harmful ingredients include raisins, corn, onions, macadamia nuts, citrus, food coloring and vegetable oil.

Always first check if food is safe and proactively tell guests and relatives not to feed your dog potentially harmful treats. Ultimately, it's better to be safe than sorry if unsure about a type of food or ingredient.

Interesting fact! In an emergency situation, though not ideal, a dog may survive by eating cat food for a short while, but a cat cannot survive on dog food.

Pit Bull Specific Dietary Information

Pit bull nutrition is not vastly different from other dogs. However, some studies show that they do better on a more protein-rich diet. Some conclude that a protein content of around 22 to 32% makes the best dog food for the breed.[3]

Healthy fats will also give pit bulls energy and improve skin and coat condition.

Some pit bulls may also be at risk for certain heart conditions, meaning a more low-sodium and fish-oil-rich diet may be necessary.

Like many terrier-type breeds, pit bulls can be at risk for hip dysplasia. While a very rich calcium-rich diet may seem like a good idea, it can negatively impact cartilage and tendon health…especially in developing puppies. An amount of between 1.1% and 1.5% calcium is ideal.

a pitbull wearing a pineapple knit jersey

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How Much Should I Feed My Pit Bull?

A healthy pit bull will have a muscular build and a slight tapering at its waist. The ideal weight for an adult pit bull is around 45 pounds.

An adult should be eating around 1,100 calories a day, split into two or more meals. However, a very active pit bull can eat up to 1,700 calories in a day without issue. A less active dog may need less than that. [1]

As your dog ages, it will require less, with most senior pit bulls will only need around 895 calories a day. 

A puppy will actually need to eat more calories (relative to body size), with vetinarians saying that a puppy over 4 months will need to eat around 77 calories for every pound of body weight. [4]

Treats can be included in the overall calorie account, but it's best to avoid free feeding throughout the day.

Wet Dog food vs. Dry Dog Food

The wet food vs. dry food debate is not a new one, especially since it's somewhat circumstantial. So let's look at the pros and cons.[5

Dry dog food

Dry dog food has a water content of less than 12%. It is normally cheaper and more environmentally friendly since it uses less packaging. Dry food is also less messy and lasts longer. Pit bulls can therefore get more calories from a smaller amount.

Some say that dry dog food cleans teeth, while others say that it can get packed in and causes dental issues. This is largely reliant on quality.

a pitbull eatinf raw meat

Wet food 

Wet dog food has a stronger smell and taste, which makes it more desirable for your dog. It also satisfies your dog’s water requirement along with their food, preventing dehydration. Since there are fewer calories per serving, it's a good option for overweight pets.


There is normally nothing wrong with combining wet and dry dog food. However, they should be served separately to ensure the combination doesn’t exceed the recommended calorie intake.

Some dogs with sensitive stomachs may actually become sick from the variety, and in that case, it's usually best to pick just one type of dog food.

Consider their age, activity levels, and general tastes before committing to a single type of food or brand.


In conclusion…there is no single ‘best dog food’ for your pit bull. 

The best food is the one that matches all of their dietary requirements. Sometimes this can be met with only dry or wet dog foods, or you may need to supplement their diet with veggies and extras. Or, to have complete control over the ingredient list, you may choose to make your own dog food and treats.

However, it's equally important to remember that diet alone is not enough to keep them in top shape. Regular exercise is a crucial component of their well-being. Invest in a high-quality walking harness and take your pit bull on daily invigorating walks, ensuring they stay active, engaged, and maintain a healthy weight.

Article Resources:

[1] https://www.petmd.com

[2] https://www.petmd.com/dog/nutrition

[3] https://www.loveyourdog.com/pitbull-feeding-chart/

[4] https://www.animalmedicalcenterofchicago.com

[5] https://www.zooplus.co.uk