Eating Like Their Howling Ancestors: Is the Raw Diet for Pitbulls Appropriate?

🦴 Updated on January 8th, 2023

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Like all furbaby parents, I am always looking to improve my pitbull’s health, happiness, and quality of life. I take my dog’s care to heart, and during my ongoing search for ways to enhance her well-being, I came across the concept of a raw diet for pitbulls. 

Transitioning a pup to a raw diet can minimize health concerns by promoting boosting nutrition, relieving allergy and food sensitivity symptoms, and promoting healthy digestion. 

Is Raw Meat Good for Pitbulls?

In this article we will answer questions such as “can pit bulls eat raw meat?” and “is raw meat good for pitbulls?” 

A raw diet for pitbulls offers a long list of health benefits but also carries some risks. Here is a comprehensive breakdown of the optimal pitbull raw diet.

What To Feed Pitbulls in a Raw Diet

Many dog owners decide to transition their pets to an exclusively raw food diet for its myriad of health advantages, but it is important to know the right base ingredients to include.

The ideal raw diet for pitbulls provides a strong balance of vitamins, fatty acids, proteins, minerals, calories, and fiber. Here are the food categories that should be present in a raw pitbull diet.

Can Pitbulls Eat Raw Meat? Can Pit bulls Eat Raw Chicken?

Many pet owners wonder, can pitbulls eat raw meat? Raw meats are the primary food source in a raw diet for pitbulls. Is raw meat good for pitbulls? They are the fundamental ingredient in pitbull raw food recipes because they provide the bulk of nutrients and calories your dog needs. 

Raw Meats

Within the raw meats category exists a few raw meat subsets.

Raw Meaty Bones 

Raw meaty bones have ultra-high protein and calcium content. Protein plays a critical role in regulating dogs’ basic bodily functioning. Calcium is vital to bone strength and development. Raw meaty bones should be the primary raw meat ingredient in a raw diet for pitbulls. 

You can give your dog raw meaty bones from rabbit, poultry, pork, and lamb sources. Chicken bones should be the top pick, but you can also use turkey, duck, quail, and pheasant bones. Pork and lamb bones have high-fat content, so they should be given in small amounts. 

Raw Muscle Meat

16 to 20oz of boneless muscle meat provides sufficient protein and fiber to complement the rest of the raw pitbull diet. You can use muscle meat from any previously-mentioned animals, plus raw beef, bison, goat, deer, elk, and others.

Raw Organ Meat

After raw meaty bones, raw organ meat should be the second-most present raw meat element making up around 10% of a raw diet for pitbulls. 

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Chicken and turkey livers, hearts, and kidneys contain key nutrients like copper, iron, and zinc. Can pitbulls eat raw chicken? Yes. Chicken gizzards are rich in vitamins A, B12, B6, and C. 

Raw Fish

Raw fish provide omega-fatty acids essential for a healthy brain, blood, cells, skin, and neurological system. Some raw fish you can feed your dog include anchovies, trout, herring, salmon, sardines, and mackerel. 

You can give canned, whole, or ground fish. Fish oils and fish oil supplements can also provide the essential fatty acids your dog needs. About 10% of a raw pitbull diet should be raw fish.

Vegetables and Fruits

We know that fruits and vegetables are valuable mineral and vitamin sources for humans. These foods are healthy for dogs, too! 

It is crucial to use a food processor or finely chop vegetables and fruits before feeding them to your dog, but the dietary benefits are worth the effort. 

5-10% of a pitbull raw diet should be fruits and vegetables. Here is a list of fruits and vegetables well-suited to a pitbull raw diet.

  • Green beans – Green beans are heavy in vitamins A, C, and K and omega fatty acids. Green beans are a pitbull superfood because they also contain iron, folic acid, copper, fiber, potassium, calcium, and more.
  • Apples – Apples provide vitamin C and antioxidants. 
  • Spinach – Spinach has high iron content that brings anti-inflammatory benefits. 
  • Sweet potatoes – Sweet potatoes also have iron, potassium, calcium, and copper. They are also rich in vitamins E, B6, and C.
  • Cantaloupe – Cantaloupe has folate, fiber, vitamins B6 and C, and cell-protecting properties. 
  • Asparagus – Asparagus is high in fiber, folate, iron, potassium, and vitamins A, B1, B2, C, D, and K.
  • Pumpkin – Dog owners often feed their pets pumpkin to aid with digestive symptoms because of its fiber content and specific antioxidants. Pumpkin is also rich in vitamin A. 
  • Brussel Sprouts – Brussel Sprouts contain folate, magnesium, potassium, iron, and vitamins A, B1, B6, K, and G.
  • Watermelon – Watermelon offers vitamins A, B6, and C.
  • Blueberries – Blueberries have properties that prevent cardiac diseases, urinary tract infections, and certain cancers in dogs.
  • Zucchini squash – Zucchini is rich in fiber, iron, and vitamins A, C, and D.
  • Broccoli – Raw broccoli is a source of vitamin E, which has anti-inflammatory antioxidants.
  • Pears – Pears have vitamins A and C, plus high fiber content. Feed your pitbull raw pears in moderation, as too much pear can cause stomach upset.
  • Carrots – Carrots provide potassium, fiber, and vitamin A.

Raw Eggs

Calcium is a vital component of any dog’s diet. On a raw diet for pitbulls, most calcium comes from raw meaty bones. Another good calcium source is raw eggs with eggshells. 

Egg Whites, yolks, and shells are rich in valuable protein, biotin, zinc, iron, calcium, copper, selenium, fatty acids, and a long list of vitamins. A dog on a raw diet for pitbulls should eat one raw egg with the eggshell every other day.

Feeding your pitbull raw eggs in conjunction with the rest of the raw diet helps balance phosphorus levels because of their calcium content. Raw muscle meat and organs are high in phosphorus, and an imbalance could lead to health complications.

Grind down the eggshells into a powder before mixing them into the raw meats. Feeding eggshells in powdered form eliminates the choking hazard and eases digestion.

Raw Food Versus Dry Kibble/Canned Food

The raw diet vs traditional dog food diet debate presents a comparison between pros, cons, and priorities. Here is a quick breakdown of the benefits and downsides of each diet option.

Dry Kibble/Canned Food Pros

  • cost-effective
  • convenient
  • nutritional content regulation

Dry Kibble/Canned Food Cons

  • unappealing texture and taste
  • containers fillers
  • not necessarily the healthiest choice
  • risk of contaminants during commercial production

Raw Food Pros

  • customizable to your dog’s specific dietary needs and preferences
  • complete transparency of what your dog is consuming
  • potentially much healthier

Raw Food Cons

  • expensive
  • time-consuming
  • bacterial risks
  • can be difficult to know the exact nutritional balance
  • requires a lot of freezer storage space

Raw Diet for Pitbulls: What the Research Shows

When it comes to feeding dogs a raw or traditional diet, critics and advocates exist on both sides. 

The Expert Take On Raw Food for Pitbulls

In the early 1990s, Australian veterinarian Ian Billinghurst famously proposed that we reintroduce our dogs to a more evolutionary diet consisting of raw meat, bones, and vegetables. 

His philosophy is that commercially-produced kibble is unnatural and harmful to dogs’ health. He and many others cite findings that a raw food diet provides a series of health benefits compared to kibble and canned dog food.

Studies show that several factors impact the health benefits a dog can gain from an exclusively raw diet. Those factors include the variety of raw foods given and the food’s source. 

Commercially-produced raw meats tend to have higher bacterial risks than organic meats, for example.

Another study concluded that dogs who consistently ate a raw diet and then transitioned to dry kibble ended the experiment with 5x more disease markers than they started with.

The AKC and FDA warn against feeding your dog a raw diet because these organizations deem the risk of contracting a bacterial infection too high. 

How to Begin Feeding Your Pitbull Raw Meat

Whether you are starting a pit bull puppy on a raw meat diet for pitbulls or are transitioning your older pitbull to raw food from a conventional diet, it is critical to ease into it.

A slow transition helps digestive enzymes adjust from processing high-carb dry kibble and canned dog food to the raw diet. 

Stomach acid and good bacteria in the digestive tract also change with diet type because digesting food elements like raw meaty bones require heavier lifting.

Begin by feeding bland proteins that are easy to digest, like turkey or chicken. Monitor restroom breaks until their stool becomes consistent before introducing new proteins to their diet one at a time. 

A healthy transition can take anywhere from 1-4 weeks, but most dogs successfully transition within the first 10 days.

Pitbull Raw Food Recipes: Sample Raw Diet Plan

It is vital to ensure your pitbull takes in a balanced variety of raw ingredients to optimize nutrition. Here are two raw food recipes to add to your pitbull’s diet.

Raw Boneless Beef Recipe (1 week’s worth)

This recipe calls for:

  • 1 pound of beef liver
  • 5 pounds of lean ground beef
  • 2 pounds of beef heart
  • 8 ounces each of 3 different green veggies
  • 12 ounces of various berries
  • 4 whole eggs 
  • 4 egg shells
  • 2 teaspoons of Himalayan Salt

First, thoroughly wash your hands and all of the ingredients. Second, chop the beef heart and liver into tiny bites. Then, use a food processor to puree the vegetables, berries, and salt. 

Next, grind the egg shells into a powder and add the shells, eggs, and every meat ingredient into the puree. Then, use clean hands to mix the ingredients and separate the mixture into daily portions. 

Finish by properly storing the remaining portions that you won’t immediately serve in the freezer to feed your pitbull later.

Raw Boneless Chicken Recipe (5 days worth)

This recipe calls for:

  • 5 pounds of chicken
  • 2 apples
  • 2 cups of spinach
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 3 eggshells
  • 2 cups of red cabbage
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil

Begin by thoroughly washing your hands and all of the ingredients. Then, chop the chicken meat into small bites. Next, grind the eggshells into a powder and chop the fruits and vegetables into small pieces. 

Combine all ingredients with clean hands and divide the mixture into portions. Lastly, take any portions you won’t immediately serve and properly store them in the freezer for later use.

Raw Diet for Pitbulls With Allergies

Pitbulls suffering from food sensitivities can benefit greatly from transitioning to an exclusively raw diet. 

Raw fish diets can alleviate itching because of the omega-fatty acids and oils that benefit the skin. If your dog has an allergy to chicken or beef, fish is a good alternative protein. 

A raw diet for pitbulls with allergies that are heavy in alternative proteins, like venison, duck, or bison, can ease symptoms associated with their sensitivity. 

Offering Raw Meat to a Pitbull: Understanding the Risk Involved

Now that we know some raw diet details, let’s clarify the potential risks it can have for dogs. A variety of different food groups make up a complete raw diet, and raw meat presents the most significant risks. 

Bacteria

Raw meat and eggs can house bacteria that cause food poisoning. The most prevalent bacterial dangers include Salmonella, E Coli, and Listeria. 

Most dogs who contract bacterial food poisoning recover fully, but initial symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, abdominal pain and cramping, appetite loss, and low-grade fever.  

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Ensure that you take proper precautions like handling the raw meat safely and buying food from reputable sources to lower the chances of contamination. 

To safely handle raw meat, wash your hands before and after holding it. Wash the meat itself so that it is thoroughly clean before feeding it to your dog. 

Buy meat from a butcher or market you trust, buy organic eggs, and do not buy food for your dog that you wouldn’t eat. Be careful not to overbuy and end up storing meat longer than is safe and risk spoiling. 

Bone Hazards

It’s possible to choke on or suffer gastrointestinal obstruction from bone fragments ingested with raw meat. You can employ safety practices to mitigate these risks. 

Supervise your dog during meal times and encourage slow eating. Be aware of your dog’s specific chewing habits and only provide bones large enough that they are unable to be swallowed whole.

Grinding bones into powder is an excellent way to keep bones in the pitbull raw diet while eliminating choking and obstructing risks.

FAQs

Here are some common questions about raw meat diet for pitbulls.

At what age can pitbulls begin eating raw meat? 

Most experts recommend waiting until your pitbull is at least 12 weeks old to introduce raw meat.

Should pitbulls eat raw meat? 

A proper raw meat diet can offer your pitbull a complete, healthy nutritional balance. 

Can pitbulls eat raw chicken? 

Pitbulls can eat raw chicken that is clean, stored, and handled safely, and that originates from a reputable source.

Final Notes

A raw diet for pitbulls can answer a variety of your pitbull’s health concerns. Switching to a raw diet can improve your pitbull’s energy levels, digestive system, skin, and overall nutritional balance.

A raw diet for pitbulls should include raw meaty bones, muscle meat, organ meat, and fish. Always consult with your veterinarian about which raw foods will benefit your pitbull the most. 

Sarah Alward | Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
Sarah Alward | Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
Our resident DVM helps review every article to ensure we always provide scientifically accurate, up-to-date information. She’s proud to help provide pet parents everywhere with the info they need to keep their pets safe, healthy, and comfortable.