Over the last few decades, pit bulls have gotten a bad rap, often seen as canines bent on terrorizing other dogs or attacking children. But when well-cared for and socialized from puppyhood, pit bulls can make loyal, loving family pets. One way to ensure pit bulls are healthy and good-tempered is to feed them a nutritious diet throughout their lifespan.
How Much Should a Pit Bull Eat?
Pit bull puppies
With their beseeching eyes and floppy ears, it can be easy to overindulge pit bull puppies. But proper nutrition from the start will help them grow into healthy adults. Pit bull puppies need high-quality protein from such sources as muscle meats and eggs since they don't digest protein as well as full-grown dogs. Look for dog food that is 34-to-40 percent high-quality protein.
At the same time, puppies need a moderate amount of fat. Packing on the pounds too quickly can lead to skeletal abnormalities. Food should contain 14-to-17 percent fat, from such sources as chicken fat and fish oil. Because the enzyme that helps puppies digest starches is low, the amount of carbohydrates in their food should be less than 30 percent. Pit bulls need food that contains 1.1-to-1.5 percent calcium to promote strong, healthy bones. At the same time, too much calcium can lead to skeletal problems.
Food formulated for puppies rather than adult dogs will help your pit bull get the proper nutrition for a good start in life.
Pit bulls should not be allowed to free feed, in which a bowl of food is out at all times, at any life stage.
Puppies up to 12-weeks-old should eat four-to-six small meals a day. Each meal should be about a quarter-to-half cup of food. Most pit bulls start weaning around four weeks of age. As they nurse less, they will need more solid dog food. As the puppies grow, switch their feedings to three times a day at six months.
Adult pit bulls
By about 18-months-old, pit bulls are full-grown and ready to eat food formulated for adult dogs. Pit bulls range in size from 30-to-80 pounds, and the amount of food they eat should be adjusted for their size. For example, a large pit bull needs three cups of dry food each day; fed at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This amount should be reduced to two-thirds of a cup or less three times a day for smaller pit bulls.
Food should be meat-based rather that grain-based. Look for ingredients on the label that humans eat, as well as pets, and try to find foods without such ingredients as bonemeal or meat by-products. Look for food that contains 15-to-30 percent protein and 15-to-20 percent fat.
Your dog likely loves treats and table scraps, but try to limit these.
Senior pit bulls
While your pit bull may still be playful and active at age 8 or 9, he is entering his senior years. The average lifespan of a pit bull is 12-to-14 years. As he grows older, his nutritional needs will change. Like puppies, senior dogs have a harder time metabolizing protein, so the amount in your pit bull's diet should rise to about 40 percent to ensure he gets enough. Low protein, high carbohydrate diets may make your dog more susceptible to diabetes and urinary tract problems.
Every dog is different, and those who are active and exercising a lot can continue to eat the same amount of food as in their younger years. But as they slow down, many pit bulls need fewer calories, which can be found in foods formulated with less fat. If your pit bull is putting on weight, the amount of food fed can be reduced slightly. Another way to avoid extra pounds as your pet ages is to cut back on treats and leftovers fed to him.