There’s been a lot of talk about feeding dogs a raw diet instead of processed pet food. Will the raw Pitbull diet be right for your dog? Are you being a bad pet owner if you choose to go with kibble?
In this article, we’re going to take a look at the pros and cons and dos and don’ts of raw food diets for Pitbulls.
Since we’re quite happy to look at different viewpoints and aren’t passionate advocates of any one option, you can be sure that you’ll get a balanced view.
After that, it’s up to you to decide whether you want to go the raw food route, choose a variant, or just run with the kibble.
Why Pitbull Raw Food Diets Became Popular
There are several reasons why some pet owners believe that making your own dog food is a safer and better option.
Contaminated Food Fears
First among the reasons for making the change to home made pet food: the possibility that a batch of manufactured dog food or pet treats may be contaminated.
Mold toxins (aflatoxins) are often the culprits. Since many pet food manufacturers use ingredients that aren’t considered fit for human consumption, this and other issues may arise.
Pitbull owners certainly aren’t alone in their concern about contaminated dog food. The list of pet food recalls in 2022 alone is likely to cause a few raised eyebrows and highlight fears.
However, perspective is always a good thing, so it’s worth pointing out that fatalities from tainted dog food account for a very small percentage of dog fatalities.
Finding exact figures is difficult, but in total, it’s unlikely that we’re looking at more than 300 fatalities from contaminated dog food in the US in 2022.
With a US population of nearly 18 million dogs, the percentages are low. Consider a human fatality figure in the thousands related to food poisoning, and dog food may even be a safer bet!
Pitbulls Back To Nature
Some pet owners feel that feeding an active dog like a Pitbull the type of food he would naturally consume in the wild, could be a healthier option.
There are certainly pet food ingredients in processed options that they wouldn’t include in their diets at all.
By giving their dogs a natural diet, and particularly a raw one, pet owners hope to give them an even better balance of foods in a format they’re made to digest.
They may have a point. While not all veterinarians support raw feeding, and some of these may note that pet dogs are almost sure to live longer than wild ones, professional proponents of raw feeding certainly do exist.
Better weight management, improved coat and skin condition, and higher energy levels are among the benefits of a raw Pitbull diet you’ll often hear.
Dealing With Allergies And Digestive Issues
When you have a Pitbull who is allergic to some or other common ingredient found in processed pet food, switching to a natural or raw diet could help you to have a healthier pet.
It’s not always easy to pinpoint the ingredient that doesn’t agree with them, so simplifying the diet and knowing exactly what’s going into it can help you to spot the culprit.
And if your dog just has particularly sensitive digestion, the same applies.
However, don’t blame allergies right away if your dog’s food doesn’t agree with him.
If you just switched brands without a careful transition; if your dog somehow accessed food you didn’t give him; or if you couldn’t resist “treating” your Pitbull to “human food” that isn’t suitable for dogs, that could be the real problem.
Just to make things even more complicated, your Pitbull could be allergic to some of the meats and veggies commonly recommended in a raw diet.
On the flipside, you stand a better chance of identifying and eliminating them.
Is Kibble Bad For Pitbulls?
In general, there’s nothing badly wrong with choosing high-quality kibble as a diet for your dog.
Making homemade raw or cooked food for your Pitbull is going to be both costly and time-consuming, and balancing his diet isn’t easy either.
In short, you’re not a bad dog owner just because you choose kibble as your dog’s staple diet and most veterinarians recommend this route.
The vast majority of dogs live on kibble throughout their lives without experiencing health difficulties.
If you’re short on time or find the cost of raw feeding your pitbull too high to contemplate, go ahead with the kibble unless your veterinarian prescribes a departure from it.
Arguments Against Raw Feeding
There are pros and cons to everything, and a raw pitbull diet has its possible disadvantages too. The first and most difficult one to overcome is getting the balance of nutrients just right.
While many dog owners who vouch for raw feeding do succeed, it takes time, effort, and thought.
There are also experts who reason that if dog food can be contaminated in the controlled conditions of a factory, it can become contaminated even more easily at home.
Since grains aren’t part of a pitbull raw food diet, the culprits could be bacteria or parasites in the meat.
Contamination is likeliest to occur in your own kitchen, and the counterargument is that by doing your homework and being attentive to food hygiene, that problem shouldn’t arise.
All the same, even freshly purchased raw meat can harbor harmful bacteria. It’s the primary argument for cooking meat and bones before giving them to your pet instead of going for raw food.
You could see this as a variant on the raw Pitbull diet with the primary difference being that the food is cooked rather than raw.
Finally, dogs with certain health issues can’t eat a very high protein diet or may struggle to digest raw food. And even if it doesn’t make them ill, not all dogs thrive on a raw diet.
Does Raw Meat Make Pitbulls Aggressive?
“Feed your Pitbull raw meat, and he becomes aggressive:” fact or fiction? We’re going to tag this as pure fiction but with a couple of caveats.
Just giving your dog a natural, raw diet isn’t going to turn him into a ravening monster, but you may have to be a bit careful. Here’s why.
The simple fact is that your Pitbull is going to LOVE his raw meat and if you include bones, they’ll be firm favorites too.
If your dog feels too possessive over his food, he might just defend it, especially if he thinks you might “steal” it from him. So, very important: make sure your Pitbull knows who is in charge of the food!
You can do this by training him to wait in front of his bowl until you “release” him with a command. Stay close to him while he eats (especially at first).
Give him a bit of affection, and even move the bowl or steady it with your feet and later your hands while he eats.
Discourage your pets from competing with each other for food or separate them at mealtimes. If your Pitbull feels he has to assert himself to keep his delicious meal, it could turn into a bad situation.
How To Transition Your Pitbull To Raw Food
Supposing that you love the idea of feeding your Pitbull as nature intended and have decided that you have the necessary time, diligence, and budget, don’t make the change sudden.
Even small changes in diet can cause tummy upsets.
Start by giving your pitbull meat as a little treat between regular kibble meals. Then, start mixing a small amount of meat into his kibble.
After a few days, start making your raw feed mixes and increase the proportion of raw food to kibble little by little. Slow the transition if your dog has loose stools.
Raw Pitbull Diet Dos And Don’ts
There are a lot of conflicting viewpoints on raw Pitbull diets, and as we’ve pointed out, not all dogs thrive on it.
However, we’ll try to help you with a few generally accepted dos and don’ts and a couple of question marks that you’ll have to figure out for yourself.
Don’t give your dog raw pork or salmon. Pork and salmon may carry harmful organisms, and salmon bones can cause internal injuries.
Don’t use any meat you would consider unsafe for yourself. Although dogs may seem to get away with eating the darndest things without getting ill, they’re not immune to potentially fatal food poisoning.
Don’t give more than 5 percent liver. Liver is rich in vitamin A, but too much vitamin A can be dangerous.
Don’t keep “leftovers.” If you make too much food for your Pitbull to eat in a day, don’t keep it for too long and store it in the fridge.
If you prefer to make big batches, freeze daily portions. If your dog left food in his bowl, dispose of it right away.
Bacteria in his saliva increase the chances of contamination. Ideally, make just enough food for each meal and no more.
Don’t bother to add starch. Your Pitbull doesn’t need starch. It’s just a “filler” in processed dog foods and often causes issues.
However, some argue that a little starch can boost your dog’s energy levels and that domestic dogs are able to digest starch.
Do consult your vet before considering raw food if your Pitbull has health issues.
Apart from raw food and too much protein not being good for dogs with certain illnesses, raw meat may not be suitable for a dog with low immunity.
Do vary the diet. Your Pitbull’s raw diet will include vegetables and raw meat. Vary the sources of both to help you balance their diet.
To get different nutrients from veggies, change the type of vegetable every day or make a blend.
Do watch your dog closely when introducing new ingredients. Some dogs are even allergic to beef, so be alert to how different foods affect your Pitbull.
Do choose leaner meats. A high fat content isn’t good for your dog. Choose lean, muscle meat.
Do include organs. Up to ten percent of your dog’s raw meat mixture can consist of organ meat. If liver is involved, stick to 5 percent and top up with heart, kidney, brains, spleen, etc.
Do include fruit and veg, but be sure they’re OK for dogs. Pitbulls on a raw or homemade diet will need some veggies and fruits, but be sure the ones you choose are OK for dogs to eat.
For example, grapes and avos could be harmful to your dog, and onion, as well as large amounts of garlic, broccoli and potatoes are right out.
The question of bones – so many opinions. Finally, most proponents of a raw food diet suggest including raw bones. How good this is depends on the bones and the dog.
If your dog crunches up and wolfs down huge chunks of bone or gets the wrong type of bones, it can result in choking, internal injuries or even death.
Bone meal may seem to be a solution, but there are warnings against its use too – unless you grind fresh bones at home yourself.
We’re leaving this one up to you. There are simply too many risks and conflicting opinions for us to make a call. All the same, we can confirm that cooked bones are more likely to cause injury.
We can recommend eggs including the crumbled up shell as a source of calcium, and chicken necks are generally safe from a bones perspective, but even this comes with a potential salmonella risk when served raw.
Pitbull Raw Food Recipes And Ingredients
If you’re going into raw feeding, you’ll probably do plenty of research into possible recipes. Some of them include ingredients that may or may not be risky for your dog. Use your discretion!
The basics are:
- Meats form the backbone of the meal: Chicken, turkey, beef, fish, rabbit, goat – anything except pork or salmon!
- Organ meats are fine, but don’t go too heavy on the liver!
- Add an egg with shell (washed) three or four times a week.
- Mix in some fruit or veg and vary by color to change up the vitamin content. Put them through a blender and combine with the meat.
- Extras including coconut oil, yogurt, cottage cheese or flaxseed oil.
- Raw meaty bones or freshly ground bone meal (at your discretion and never cooked)
Appropriate fruits and vegetables include:
- Kale, spinach, or other leafy greens
- Butternut or pumpkin
- Apples or pears (remove pips)
Example recipe: BARF (biologically available raw food) diet
- Tablespoon coconut oil
- Raw ground beef or diced lean meat
- Green beans (unsalted if canned)
- An egg (including shell)
Too easy? Remember that you will have to vary the simple recipe above. Here is a more complex alternative:
- Deboned raw turkey, minced or chopped
- Chicken hearts (10 percent)
- Beef liver (5 percent)
- An egg with shell
- Kale leaves (three to four finely chopped or blended)
- A few blueberries
- Freshly ground bone meal (a tablespoon or less per serving)
Cost: about $30 to $40 per week for an adult Pitbull – vary the meat source and vegetables.
How Much To Feed Your Dog
The amount of raw food your Pitbull will need can be difficult to determine since different recipes will have different amounts of nutrients.
In general, however, a young, active adult Pitbull will need more food than elderly, less active pet.
Puppies can eat a raw diet, but will need smaller portions served at more frequent intervals.
The rule of thumb for adult Pitbulls is that the bulk of the raw food should consist of meat and the total weight should be two to five percent of your dog’s body weight per day divided into two meals.
Before You Begin The Raw Pitbull Diet
If you’d like to explore the raw Pitbull diet in greater depth, call your veterinarian to find out whether he or she will be willing to advise you.
Not all veterinarians support this diet, so you may need to call around to find one who is even willing to discuss it with you.
Get your dog’s health checked out first, and while you’re at it, ask for recommendations and possible recipes.
Because of liability concerns, and concern about raw food’s safety in the scientific community, your veterinarian will probably offer advice with the disclaimer that choosing a raw food diet is something you do at your own risk.
In the same spirit, you should understand that although many people have had success with a Pitbull raw food diet, there are risks.
Having said that, you’ll find many people who have experience with this diet and who believe that their dogs are in better health than ever before.
In the end, choosing your Pitbull’s diet, be it raw, cooked, or processed is entirely up to you – and the effect it has on your dog’s health depends entirely on the dog and what you feed him.
Making your own dog food has many potential pitfalls, but it could also have benefits. Regretfully, they remain anecdotal rather than proven. Weigh the pros and cons yourself and make an informed choice.