Nutrition

Best Dog Foods For Pitbull Terriers: Puppies, Adults & Seniors

Emma Braby

Last Updated: March 23, 2020 | 15 min read

American Pitbull Terriers, or the Pitbull as we shall refer to him throughout this guide, is arguably one of the most common dogs in America given his shelter statistics.  For for those Pitbulls who are lucky enough to find their forever home are then struck with the next hurdle, nutrition! Approximately 90% of all dog owners do not know, or feel confident about their pup’s nutritional needs, and yet nutrition is one of the most important, and easiest ways to keep our beloved pets healthy.

Here you will find our guide to the Pitbull’s nutritional needs and how his common health issues affect those needs, and how to alleviate them with nutrition where possible. The world of nutrition is so confusing which is why most dog owners don’t know what’s what, and that’s why we have come up with a list of our favorite superior quality natural dry dog foods that suits the Pitbull in all his life stages.

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) have issued guidelines that set out nutritional needs for dog food, and all reputable dog food manufacturers must follow these nutritional guidelines. Of course, all of the recommendations in this guide follow these guidelines too so you can rest assured that our recommendations really are the best for your Pitbull.  

At a Glance: Our Favorite Foods For Pitbulls

Puppies: Blue Buffalo Puppy Formula
Adults: Taste of The Wild Adult Formula
Seniors: NUTRO MAX Senior Formula

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Pitbull Puppy Nutrients

Pitbull puppies have a lot of growing to do, and therefore they have specific nutritional needs that are different from fully grown Pitbulls, so the first nutrition rule for puppies is to feed them puppy formula. They should be fed high-quality kibble right from the off as this will aid their healthy development into adults, so it is important to give them the best start to life. Seek to feed them food that is aimed at medium to large breeds that have high energy levels.

Puppy formula has a higher calorie and fat content which is needed for their growth. Ideally, they should be fed food that provides them with 22% to 32%, as it allows their muscle and bone growth as well as energy to grow.

Adult Pitbull Nutrients

Adult Pitbulls are muscular dogs with high energy levels, so they need a diet that is rich in good quality protein. Protein not only keeps their energy levels up throughout the day, but it also helps to stimulate muscle growth and repair. You should aim for food that contains at least 25% protein, and any more is just a bonus! If your Pitbull is a working dog, then ideally, he should be eating protein that accounts for at least 30%.

Of course, calorie intake will depend entirely on his size and his activity levels. The average Pitbull will consume around 1100 calories per day. Working Pitbulls which can include the Red Pitbull, have similar food needs to other active breeds like huskies.  They need more energy, and therefore he should look to consume around 1700 calories per day. If he is much smaller or larger than the average-sized Pitbull, which is 45 pounds, then his nutritional needs will vary.

Thankfully most kibble will detail how much to feed your dog according to his weight, but if you are in any doubt then ask your Veterinarian who will be able to advise you with tailored advice. Pitbull’s should be fed their recommended food intake across two separate meals, and free feeding should be avoided because the Pitbull will eat all day long if he is allowed too!  This goes for many different pitbull mixes too!

Senior Pitbull Nutrients

Senior Pitbulls are considered to be aged 7 years or older, but of course all dogs are different so it is best to look at his activity needs, overall health, and if you have any queries then speak to your Veterinarian who will know your Pitbull’s health and needs quite well by now. Pitbulls can be picky about the food they eat, so keep that in mind when picking a dog food.

Similar to Senior Boxer food needs, the average senior Pitbull will need around 875 calories per day.  This is much less than a younger and more active Pitbull. It is important to feed him less calories because otherwise he will quickly pile on the pounds, which will further affect his already weakening bones and joints. For this reason, recipes with added Glucosamine and Chondroitin are particularly important for the senior Pitbull. He should also be given food that contains much less fat as senior dogs find this harder to digest as they get older.

If your senior Pitbull is struggling to crunch their dry dog food then adding a little bit of water helps to soften the kibble, and it also releases the smell and flavors of the food which will encourage him to eat it too!


Best Food For Pitbull Puppies

Best Pitbull Puppy Food
Pitbull puppies need nutrient-dense higher protein food compared to adults & seniors.

Below are five of our natural dry dog kibble recommendations that are made from natural ingredients, and all have the best overall nutritional content as guided by the AAFCO. Pitbull puppies have different nutritional needs than adults and seniors.  Pitbull puppies usually need a food that’s very nutrient-dense, and can meet the demands of a growing puppy (especially an active one).  Below you’ll find our favorite foods for your pitbull puppy.

 
Blue Buffalo
Canidae Puppy
Taste of The Wild
Merrick Puppy
Science Diet
Protein
36%
30%
27%
26%
24.5%
Fats
16%
12%
15%
12%
12%
Fiber
5%
4%
5%
3.5%
3%
Moisture
10%
10%
10%
11%
10%
Kcal/Cup
423
520
360
391
373

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Puppy

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain...
  • PACKED WITH REAL CHICKEN: A recipe made to satisfy your puppy’s...
  • GRAIN FREE PUPPY FOOD: BLUE Wilderness grain free puppy food is...
  • WITH LIFESOURCE BITS: This formula contains BLUE’s exclusive...
  • NATURAL DOG FOOD: BLUE dry dog food is formulated for the health...

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This recipe is packed with real chicken which is a great source of rich protein to aid his developmental growth. It is 100% grain free which is suited to puppies with a sensitive stomach. It also includes Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) from fish oil which supports healthy brain development and eye health.

We love that this kibble is infused with their exclusive ‘Lifesource Bits’ that include extra antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that are great for your puppy’s health.


Canidae Pure Puppy Formula

CANIDAE PURE Puppy Recipe, Limited...
  • 10 INGREDIENTS or LESS: Limited ingredients crafted from 7-10...
  • GRAIN FREE FOR DOGS WITH SENSITIVE STOMACHS: There’s nothing...
  • HEALTHPLUS IN EVERY BITE: Probiotics added to every kibble after...
  • FLAVORS & TYPES: With 6 different proteins (Salmon, Lamb, Duck,...

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This is also 100% grain-free which means it is suited for puppies with a sensitive stomach. They guarantee that probiotics are added to every bite which supports a healthy digestive system and immune system. It is also full of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids from fish and flaxseed which will promote a healthy skin and coat as well as Glucosamine and Chondroitin which supports healthy joints. 

We love that it only uses 9 simple ingredients, so that you know that everything in this kibble is exactly what he needs, and there is nothing in there that he doesn’t.


Taste of the Wild Puppy

Taste of the Wild Grain Free High Protein...
  • A Taste of the Wild with smoked salmon; real Salmon is the #1...
  • High quality protein recipe with smaller kibble; tailored for...
  • Ingredients From Trusted, Sustainable Sources Around The World;...
  • Premium ingredients with added vitamins & minerals; nutrient rich...

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It is free from grain, corn, wheat, filler, artificial flavors, artificial colors or preservatives, so not only is it 100% grain-free for those puppies with a sensitive stomach, but it is made with the best natural ingredients. It is also full of live and naturally occurring microorganisms which will aid his digestive system.

We love that salmon is the first ingredient, so it is packed with omega 3 and 6 fatty oils which are key to a healthy skin and coat, which is really important for the Pitbull.


Merrick Puppy Formula

Merrick Dry Puppy Food with Healthy Grains;...
  • #1 Ingredient Is Deboned Chicken
  • Potato-Free Recipe For A Lower Glycemic Option. Recipe Contains...
  • Recipe Contains Powerful Levels Of Omega-6 And Omega-3 Fatty...
  • Smaller-Sized Kibble For Puppies

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Deboned chicken is the first ingredient which provides your Pitbull puppy with the protein that he needs for muscle development. It uses grains such as quinoa which provide him with energy sources for his active lifestyle. It is formulated with omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, as well as DHA, Glucosamine and Chondroitin, which provide a balance of much needed minerals and vitamins.

We love that this recipe includes grain in it’s ingredients for those who do not wish to feed their puppy a 100% grain free diet.


Hill’s Science Diet Puppy

Hill's Science Diet Dry Dog Food, Puppy,...
  • A large breed puppy food specially made with an optimal level of...
  • Uses a balanced set of minerals to promote strong bones and teeth...
  • Uses DHA from fish oil to support healthy brain and eye...
  • High-quality protein helps your large pup build and maintain lean...

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This recipe is aimed at large breed puppies, so it has the optimal level of calcium for controlled bone growth which is important for his potential Hip Dysplasia issues. It also has fish oil that provides your pup with the nutrients he needs for brain and eye development, as well as a healthy coat. It is also made from lamb which offers an alternative to the most common chicken recipes.

We love that this recipe has been voted number 1 by Veterinarians in America, so you know this product has got to be good for your puppy Pitbull.


Best Foods For Adult Pitbulls

Adult Pitbull Eating Food and Snow
Adult Pitbulls need more calories, but that should be spread between more frequent feedings with less nutrient-dense food.

Just like our puppy food recommendations, our recommendations for adult Pitbulls are based on natural dry food ingredients, which follow the AAFCO guidelines and has the best overall nutritional content.  Adults will have a higher calorie requirement, but it should be broken down across multiple feeding sessions instead of feeding them higher-calorie foods.  Feeding your adult a puppy food will have them putting on the pounds quickly.  Below are our favorite foods for your adult Pitbull.

 
Crave Adult
Blue Buffalo
Taste of The Wild
Canidae Adult
Earthborn Adult
Protein
34%
28%
32%
32%
32%
Fats
17%
13%
18%
18%
18%
Fiber
3.5%
6%
4%
4%
4%
Moisture
10%
10%
10%
10%
10%
Kcal/Cup
463
386
370
496
400

Crave Adult Formula

CRAVE Grain Free with Protein from Chicken...
  • Contains One (1) 22 Lb. Bag Of Crave Grain Free Adult Dry Dog...
  • This Dog Food Is Made With Real Chicken: Modern Dogs Thrive On...
  • High Protein: Made With 34% Protein, Inspired By The Diets Of...
  • Grain Free With Quality Carbohydrate Sources For Energy

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This recipe is based on the Pitbull’s canine ancestors who only ate rich protein which gave him the energy to chase and maintain his lean body, and this is exactly what the adult Pitbull needs. Real chicken is the number one ingredient, and it is packed full of vitamins and minerals to maintain a healthy body. It is also grain free for those with sensitive stomachs.

We love that this offers one of the highest levels of protein, which is great for active Pitbulls.


Blue Wilderness Adult Formula

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe...
  • PACKED WITH REAL BISON: A recipe inspired by the Rocky Mountains,...
  • GRAIN FREE DOG FOOD: BLUE Wilderness large breed dog food is made...
  • WITH LIFESOURCE BITS: This formula contains BLUE’s exclusive...
  • NATURAL DOG FOOD: BLUE large breed dry dog food is formulated for...

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This contains real bison to offer protein-rich meat, which is much needed for large breeds such as the Pitbull. It is also packed with it’s exclusive ‘Lifesource Bits’ which is a precise blend of antioxidants, minerals and vitamins, as well as Glucosamine and Chondroitin for his joint health. Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids are also included which is great for his healthy skin and coat needs.

We love that this is not a grain free recipe, so it is a great option for those who do not wish to feed their Pitbull a 100% grain free diet.


Taste of the Wild Adult

Taste of the Wild High Protein Real Meat...
  • Taste of the Wild High Prairie with ROASTED BISON & VENISON REAL...
  • High protein ingredients with added vitamins & minerals fruits...
  • Ingredients From Trusted Sustainable Sources Around The World...
  • Nutrient rich and HIGHLY DIGESTIBLE with species-specific...

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This recipe offers an optimal blend of amino acids which are great for his heart, fatty acids for his skin and coat health, as well as antioxidants that provide all the vitamins and minerals that he needs to stay healthy. It is highly digestible and grain-free for those Pitbulls with sensitive stomachs.

We love that Buffalo, Chicken meal and Lamb meal are the first three ingredients, so you know that his protein needs will be met with this recipe.


Canidae Adult Formula

CANIDAE PURE Real Salmon, Limited Ingredient,...
  • 10 KEY INGREDIENTS or LESS: Limited ingredients crafted from 7-10...
  • GRAIN FREE FOR DOGS WITH SENSITIVE STOMACHS: There’s nothing...
  • HEALTHPLUS IN EVERY BITE: Probiotics added to every kibble after...
  • FLAVORS & TYPES: With 6 different proteins (Salmon, Lamb, Duck,...

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Canidae has created this recipe with just 8 key ingredients that keep it simple and natural. In addition to those ingredients are added vitamins, minerals and probiotics which aid a healthy immune system, as well as promote a healthy digestive state. It is 100% grain-free and it does not contain anything that your Pitbull does not need.

We love that the first three ingredients are Salmon, Salmon meal and Menhaden Fish meal which means it is packed full of fatty acids that will promote a healthy skin and coat that the Pitbull needs.


Earthborn Holistic Adult Formula

Earthborn Holistic Great Plains Feast Grain...
  • With lean red meat bison meal as the first ingredient your dog is...
  • Bison meal and lamb meal are lean red meat proteins
  • Egg protein is the biological standard that all other proteins...

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Bison meal is the first ingredient in this recipe which means that it is full of rich protein meat for the Pitbull’s high energy levels and muscular body, as well as dried eggs which are another great source of protein. It is 100% grain-free and is full of antioxidants such as Apples, Blueberries, Carrots, Spinach and Cranberries for a healthy oxidative balance.

We love that this is a chicken and poultry free recipe for those Pitbull who are either allergic or intolerant of these commonly used meats.


Best Food For Senior Pitbulls

Senior Pitbulls Dog Food Options
Senior Pitbulls need fewer calories as they slow down, and should have food that contains higher fiber amounts.

Your senior pitbull is like any senior dog.  Your pitbull senior will start to slow down over time, so it’s important to get your pup food that matches their energy levels so they don’t get overweight.  While Pitbulls will have more energy in their senior years than a mastiff, the mastiff’s senior age foods (and all senior breeds for the most part) are pretty similar in nutrients.  Senior formulas will generally have lower calorie counts and be higher in fiber.  This is to promote gut health, and also give your pup some regularity to their bathroom frequency.  The foods below are our favorites for Senior Pitbulls.

 
Wellness Complete Senior
Blue Buffalo Senior
Merrick Senior Formula
NUTRO MAX Senior
Diamond Naturals Senior
Protein
22%
18%
32%
25%
30%
Fats
10%
10%
12%
12%
12%
Fiber
4.25%
7%
3.5%
4%
5%
Moisture
10%
10%
11%
10%
10%
Kcal/Cup
416
345
349
354
396

Wellness Complete Health Seniors

Wellness Natural Pet Food 8910 Complete...
  • Complete health: Complete and balanced everyday nutrition to...
  • Healthy weight formula: Reduced calorie diet made with delicious...
  • All natural: Contains only premium, all natural ingredients with...
  • Made in USA: Backed by the wellness guarantee and proudly made...

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Wellness complete health offer a recipe with the senior dog’s complete health in mind. It has delicious deboned chicken for his rich protein needs, as well as healthy peas to help satisfy his hunger. It also includes blueberries and spinach for his oxidative balance, as well as flaxseed that provides him with his omega 3 and 6 fatty acid needs.

We love that this is provides all the nutrients that a senior dogs needs without cutting down on the calorie content, which is great for active senior dogs who still need the energy.


Blue Buffalo Senior Formula

Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Natural...
  • STARTS WITH REAL CHICKEN: A recipe that starts with real chicken...
  • GRAIN FREE SENIOR DOG FOOD: BLUE Freedom grain free dog food for...
  • WITH LIFESOURCE BITS: This formula contains BLUE’s exclusive...
  • NATURAL DOG FOOD: BLUE dry dog food is formulated for the health...

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This recipe is packed with their exclusive ‘Lifesource Bits’ which is a unique blend of minerals, vitamins and antioxidants tailored to the senior Pitbull. The recipe also includes Glucosamine and Chondroitin for his mobility and joint health, as well as omega 3 and 6 fatty acids which is great for his aging skin and coat nourishment. 

We love that this recipe is 100% grain free for senior Pitbulls with allergies or intolerances to grains.


Merrick Senior Formula

Merrick Grain Free Senior Real Chicken Sweet...
  • #1 INGREDIENT: DEBONED MEAT, FISH OR POULTRY: This Merrick Grain...
  • HEALTHY SKIN AND COAT, HIPS AND JOINTS: This grain free senior...
  • REAL WHOLE FOODS FOR OPTIMAL NATURAL NUTRITION: The Merrick Grain...
  • A VARIETY FOR EVERY BREED AND NEED: Merrick Grain Free senior dog...

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This grain free recipe is aimed at senior dogs who still need rich protein to maintain their muscle mass, with added Glucosamine and Chondroitin for his healthy joints and bones. It is rich in antioxidants, such as apples and blueberries, as well as omega 3 and 6 fatty oils to maintain a healthy skin and coat.

We love that this offers a high protein and low calorie ratio, which means it supports his muscle mass but without the risk of piling on the pounds.


NUTRO MAX Senior Formula

NUTRO MAX Senior Recipe With Farm Raised...
  • Nutro Max Senior With Farm Raised Chicken Dry Dog Food, Whole...
  • Natural Ingredients Plus Vitamins, Minerals & Other Nutrients:...
  • Responsibly Made In-House With A Blend Of Carefully Sourced,...
  • Feed Alone Or Mixed With Wet Food; Our Dog Food Is Full Of Flavor...

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This recipes promotes overall vitality with its extra added blend of vitamins and minerals for the senior Pitbull. It includes omega 3 and 6 fatty acids which continue to support a healthy skin and coat as well as wholesome nutrition to support a strong immune system.

We love that the first ingredient is chicken meal, which is a great source of Glucosamine and Chondroitin that supports healthy bones and joints.


Nulo Senior Formula

Nulo Grain Free Senior Dog Food With...
  • GRAIN-FREE recipe contains no corn; wheat; soy; white potatoes;...
  • HIGH MEAT/LOW CARB proprietary formula 80% animal-based protein...
  • Nulo Sr Dry Dog Food more closely resembles your dog’s...
  • JOINT SUPPORT for dogs with Glucosamine and Chondroitin. These...

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Nulo is made with premium ingredients that is packed full of nutrients that closely resembles the canine ancestor’s diet. It is also 100% grain free which means that it is suited to those with senior stomachs, and thanks to the BC30 probiotic strain it results in much healthier stools too.

We love that is offers a unique BC30 probiotic strain, which is believed to be 100 times stronger than other probiotics, which is great for his gut, metabolism regulation and overall resilience.


Best Foods For Overweight Pitbulls

Overweight Pitbull Foods
If your Pitbull happens to get overweight, you’ll want to make sure that you put them on special food to reduce weight.

 Is your American Pitbull Terrier overweight?  If so, you’ll want to put your pup on a food that’s engineered to help them shed some pounds.  This means picking a food that’s lower in calorie count, and is less nutrient-dense.  Below are our favorite foods for overweight Pitbulls that need to shed a few pounds.  Both of these when moderated and matched with exercise, should help your pup trim up in no time.


Instinct Raw Healthy Weight

Instinct Raw Boost Healthy Weight Grain Free...
  • GRAIN FREE HEALTHY WEIGHT DOG FOOD WITH FREEZE DRIED RAW CAGE...
  • HEALTHY WEIGHT DOG FOOD PLUS FREEZE DRIED RAW PIECES: With fat...
  • THE FIRST RAW BOOSTED KIBBLE FOR WEIGHT MANAGEMENT: Raw Boost...
  • POWER OF RAW INGREDIENTS: Our dog food is made with the pure,...

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In order for your Pitbull to lose weight it is important to feed him a less calorific diet, but one that still provides him with a high protein content for his high energy levels. Be sure to follow the package guidelines closely and ensure that he continues his recommended exercise plan as directed by the Veterinarian. Instinct Raw Boost has created this special formula with specific fibers that keep him feeling full, whilst keeping the recipe 100% grain-free. It also includes fat-burning L-carnitine to maintain a healthy metabolism.

We love that this food isn’t too hard on your budget, and still gives your overweight pup a kibble option that they will actually eat despite having reduced calories.


Bullymax

Bully Max High Performance Super Premium Dog...
  • The ONLY 5 Star rated performance dog food. Rated by the world's...
  • The ONLY Meat Based formula in its class. Unlike other brands...
  • MORE CALORIES than any other formula in its class (535 per cup)....
  • FOR ALL AGES. Bully Max High Performance is suitable for adult...

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This recipe is specifically designed with working Pitbulls in mind, with a much higher calorie content at 535 calories per cup. This kibble will provide him with the extra energy that he needs with only the best and natural ingredients. It is more expensive than all of our other recommended products, but this performance-related kibble is unique with its high calorie and fat content which will fuel your working Pitbull all day long.

We love that this food is specifically made for working pitbulls to promote muscle growth.  If you have an overweight pup, this will help keep them in shape while giving your Pitbull the energy it needs to become and stay more active.


Final Thoughts

Being a high energy and muscular dog it is important to feed your Pitbull a natural high-quality kibble that is specifically designed for a larger high energy dog, with a high protein content. This is important if he is a working dog.

Nutrition is the easiest way to keep your Pitbull healthy, as long as it is age-appropriate and suited to his health needs and allergies. Keep in mind that his skin conditions might dictate his nutrition, so be sure to work with your Vet. Choosing one of our recommended foods will not only ensure that your Pitbull is getting the best quality nutrition, but it will also keep him happy and healthy.

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