Knowing how much to feed a Pitbull puppy supports steady growth and sets them up for a healthy adulthood.
A Pitbull puppy’s daily calories can be calculated based on their exact age, but since all puppies are unique, it’s equally important to continually monitor their body condition score.
How Much to Feed a Pitbull Puppy
Pitbulls include a number of medium to large-sized breeds which can weigh 30-90lbs as adults. All puppies have a period of rapid growth during development.
Larger breed puppies have a longer period of rapid growth than smaller breeds. For example, a toy breed can finish rapid growth at 11 weeks old, whereas a small to medium breed can take 16 weeks, and a large or giant breed can take up to 5 months!
Even after all this rapid growth is done, puppies still grow, albeit at a slower rate. Where some smaller breeds have reached adult size by 9 months, some large/giant breeds can take 15 months to stop growing.
This is why it’s important to build nutrition around your puppy’s individual needs. We recommend not feeding your Pitbull dog adult food until they are at least 12 months old.
Feeding a Pitbull puppy too much or the wrong type of food can lead to:
- Bloat, also known as gastric dilatation-volvulus, a life-threatening condition
- Developmental orthopedic disease, including hip dysplasia and eventual osteoarthritis
There are several specific nutrients that play an important role in puppy growth and overall health when deciding how much to feed a Pitbull puppy:
Excess calcium in any breed, but especially large-breed puppies, causes developmental orthopedic disease through deformities in joint formation during growth.
Deficient calcium is just as bad, leading to soft, malformed bones that break easily. The ratio of calcium to phosphorus is critical in growing and maintaining healthy bones.
In addition, the uptake and loss of calcium from bone is 100 times greater in a growing puppy than in an adult dog.
High-fat diets or excess food can lead to obesity, bloat, and developmental orthopedic disease, which is why large-breed puppy diets often contain less fat than small-breed or all-breed puppy diets.
This important vitamin helps regulate calcium absorption in the intestines and also impacts skeletal growth. Dogs need vitamin D in their diet, as they don’t make enough from sun exposure.
How Much and How Many Times to Feed a Pitbull Puppy
Avoid large meals as they increase the risk of bloat.
Small, frequent meals are recommended as they limit calorie intake, as well as limit how much food is in the stomach at any given time.
Here is a formula for figuring out exactly how many calories to feed your Pitbull puppy, based on their predicted energy requirements:
Pitbull Puppy Feeding Chart
|Age||Calorie intake per day|
|Weaned to 4 months old||3 x RER|
|4 months to 1 year||2 x RER|
|Over 1 year||1.6 x RER (adult requirements)|
RER (Resting Energy Expenditure) = 30 x body weight (kg) + 30.
For example, a 5kg (11 lb), 3-month-old puppy will have an RER of 180 calories per day and should be fed three times that, which is 540 calories a day.
Check your puppy food label to determine how much food this equates to and split it into several small meals.
How Often to Feed a Pitbull Puppy
Until your puppy is four months old, divide their daily calories into four equal sized meals.
If you’re using food as positive reinforcement during training, remember to deduct the calories they receive as rewards from their meals.
At four months, you can start feeding your puppy three meals a day, and from six months onwards that can drop down to two meals.
Body Condition Score
We’ve talked a lot about calories, portion sizes, and feeding schedules, but every puppy’s energy requirements are unique, and they are only part of the picture.
A great way to keep an eye on your Pitbull puppy’s weight and growth is to give them a weekly or bimonthly body condition check.
Your vet can do this for you, but it’s simple to do at home with this chart from the American Animal Hospital Association.
A score in the middle of the ranges (3/5 or 5/9) means your puppy has ideal body condition.
If you’re worried that they’re too fat or too thin, ask a vet to rule out underlying causes before making any big changes to their diet.
What to Feed your Pitbull Puppy
From the Store
Look for a good quality medium-large breed puppy food.
Make at Home
This is potentially very risky for a growing dog with specific nutritional needs, and we, therefore, recommend against it. The advice of a Board-Certified Veterinary Nutritionist is essential if you do decide to home-cook for your pet.
Good Quality Puppy Food Manufacturers for Your Pitbull Puppy
Check out this link from Pet Nutrition Alliance for details on good quality pet food manufacturers’ practices, including whether they employ a nutritionist or not.
If you get your Pitbull puppy spayed or neutered, their calorific needs will decrease and obesity risk will increase. Checking body condition regularly will aid in keeping your puppy in ideal health.
Don’t be tempted to give additional supplements to your Pitbull puppy, as a good quality puppy food contains all the correct nutrients in their optimal proportions. Adding extras can put your puppy at increased risk of health problems.
Remember, how much to feed your Pitbull puppy depends more on their health and size than on their breed. So, if your Pitbull puppy is in good health, a good quality, medium- to large-sized breed puppy diet will provide everything they need.
If, however, your puppy suffers from other health complaints, give them a therapeutic diet recommended by your vet.
How Much to Feed Your Pitbull Puppy – Summary
Dietary needs are different in puppies and adult dogs. Medium-large breed puppies, like the Pitbull, have longer periods of rapid growth than small-breed puppies, magnifying the potential effects of inadequate or excessive nutrition.
The effects of feeding too much or the wrong foods can lead to obesity, bloat, and orthopedic disorders such as hip dysplasia and osteoarthritis.
Good quality, commercially available, medium-large puppy foods have the right balance of nutrients to prevent health problems related to growth.
Feeding multiple, small meals a day to your Pitbull puppy is preferable over one or two large meals, as this reduces calorie intake and helps prevent bloat.
References and Resources
- Bell, J. S. 2014. Inherited and predisposing factors in the development of gastric dilatation volvulus in dogs. Topics in Companion Animal Medicine.
- Corbee, R. J. 2014. Nutrition and the skeletal health of dogs and cats. PhD thesis. Universiteit Utrecht.
- Hawthorne, A. J., Booles, D., Nugent, P. A., Gettinby, G. and Wilkinson, J. 2004. Body-weight changes during growth in puppies of different breeds. Journal of Nutrition.
- Larsen, J. 2010. Feeding large breed puppies. Focus on Nutrition. Compendium: Continuing Education for Veterinarians.
- Lauten, S. D. 2006. Nutritional risks to large-breed dogs: From weaning to the geriatric years. Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice.
- Lyman, D. 1981. Gastric dilation – volvulus in the dog. Iowa State University Veterinarian.
- Richardson, D. C. 1992. The role of nutrition in canine hip dysplasia. Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice.