For several decades now, low protein diets have been recommended for older dogs. While based on the flimsiest scientific evidence (the original research was done on rats, not dogs), the recommendation quickly became commonly accepted.
The pet food industry welcomes all information that allows them to peddle high carbohydrate grain-based foods for premium prices, and the supposed findings seemed to make sense to many people.
After all, don’t high protein diets tax the kidneys, and don’t older dogs often have diminished kidney function?
When Is A Pitbull Considered A Senior?
Traditionally, dogs have been considered seniors when they enter the final third of their life. American Pit Bull Terriers have an average life expectancy of 12-14 years. Consequently an 8-9 year old pit bull would be a senior.
However, with the right nutrition and supplements, limited drugs and vaccinations, and plenty of exercise, an 8-9 year old won’t even be close to starting to slow down!
As your dog gets older, he might not be interested in playing as much as he used to and his health might start to worsen.
Eating well will become more important than before so you can’t give him any old food to eat. You should give him food that is good for a Pitbull his age and will help keep him healthy.
There are some foods that are especially good for senior Pitbulls and we will try to help you decide which is better for your pet. So let’s see what is the best food for senior Pitbulls.
Best Food For Senior Pitbulls
Our first recommendation is the Taste Of The Wild Wet Food. Some people think that is a weird food for dogs because of its flavour, but pet owners are happy to know that pit bulls love it.
The Pacific Stream formula contains salmon protein. This macro profile prioritises quality over quantity, and your Pit will thank you when he gulps this down.
This wet food is great, you will be satisfied when you see the growth of his muscles. It is excellent dog food for weight control and the fatty acids in the components provide a good boost to the skin and coat health as well.
If your Pitbull does not like fish, you can choose from other meat-based meals, like wild boar, lamb, roasted duck, bison, and venison. All of these options are good for your senior Pitbull.
Dry dog food is good for any healthy, active dog. Bully Max dog food has 30% protein from real meat. This is great for pit bulls who want to gain weight and create strong muscles without getting overweight.
This dog food is usually recommended for growing pit bulls. It has a high-protein, high-calorie diet that will help them stay energised. But this also makes it great for older ones.
Other dog foods might have a lot of protein, but they do not have as many calories as Bully Max. The food also does not have any artificial additives, cereals, corn, wheat, or soy.
This high-performance blend is good for pit bulls of all ages. Puppies and seniors can use it, too, but adults will benefit the most from it.
One downside is its price, this dog food is on the expensive end, so you may not want to buy as much of it. But if you’re looking for a product that can help your favourite PitBull gain muscle, then this might be the right choice for you.
If your Pitbull has skin or food allergies, then Natural Balance Dog food with limited ingredients is a good option. Limited Ingredient Diets has, as its name says, a limited number of components, which reduces the likelihood of food sensitivities.
Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diet offers a single supply of either Chicken or Salmon protein. Also has sweet potatoes which are a readily digestible and superior carbohydrate source. This provides your pit bull with all the necessary amino acids and a healthy amount of potassium.
Their grain-free dog food is good for a dog’s digestive health. This type of food can help keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy.
If your Pitbull has symptoms of a food allergy, such as red, itchy skin, this might be the ideal diet for them.
Natural Balance has over three decades of experience creating dog food that is based on solid nutritional science. This makes their food reliable and a good option for most Pitbulls.
Purina One SmartBlend True Instinct is one of the most affordable dog food for Pitbulls. It contains high-quality animal-based protein. The top two ingredients are Real Turkey and Real Venison. It also has vitamins and minerals, including 30% protein which provides a nutrient-rich diet for Pitbulls.
These high-quality nutrients will help Pitbulls gain weight healthily and have enough energy to stay active.
This dog food contains naturally occurring Glucosamine from Turkey. Glucosamine helps to keep Pitbulls’ bodies healthy, supports joint health, and protects against arthritis and hip dysplasia.
Purina One has 17% fat, 3% fibre, and 12% moisture in a digestible formula. After switching to this dog food, many Pitbull owners have reported that their dog’s upset stomach and gas troubles were resolved.
Try this dog food if you are looking for an affordable Pitbull food that doesn’t sacrifice quality!
AvoDerm Advanced Gran-Free is ideal for senior Pitbulls because it contains high-quality animal proteins, healthy grains, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals to promote senior dog health. The key ingredients in their advanced dry dog food are lamb and chicken.
This food offers a natural way to improve joint health and brain function in senior Pitbulls. It includes chondroitin sulphate and glucosamine from natural sources, as well as DHA from fish which is important for the brain and vision health of Pitbulls.
The Omega-rich avocados in AvoDerm’s ingredient list makes it an even better option. Avocado is especially beneficial for maintaining healthy skin and a glossy coat in Pitbulls. As many Pitbulls experience skin issues as they age, this dog food is ideal for treating skin allergies in senior Pitbulls.
If your Pitbull is a picky eater, you should try this food because he will like the crispy, savoury kibbles. AvoDerm dog food is made so that even older dogs will enjoy the flavour.
The Low Protein Myth
In recent years, a number of well-designed studies have proven unequivocally that dietary protein levels have no effect on the development of kidney disease in dogs.
Moreover, when dogs with severely compromised kidney function were divided into two groups and put on diets providing 18% protein and 34% protein respectively, the 34% group fared significantly better.
Other studies have demonstrated that protein levels as high as 44% have no adverse effects on kidney function in dogs with kidney disease.
Low protein, high carbohydrate diets, on the other hand, have been associated with increased risks of diabetes and urinary tract problems, diminished kidney and liver function, lower lean muscle mass and higher body fat levels (which, in turn, predispose seniors to other ailments from arthritis to heart disease).
Sadly, the vast majority of commercial senior diets still fall into the low protein/high carb category. To make matters worse, a significant percentage of the already low protein levels in these foods is supplied by grains and vegetables.
Researchers have also discovered that seniors, much like puppies, do not metabolize proteins as efficiently as younger adults. This means that your pit bull senior citizen not only requires more protein (40% or higher is ideal), but better quality protein.
Protein digestibility of dog food ingredients varies greatly from near 100% to less than 50%. High quality protein sources include eggs, muscle meats, and some organs like liver, kidney, and heart, while low quality proteins derive from plant sources such as corn and wheat as well as inferior animal sources like meat & bone meal and by-product meals.
Do Older Dogs Need Less Fat and Calories?
Another standard recommendation for senior diets is that they should contain reduced fat levels and calories. This dietary guideline is based on the belief that older dogs have less lean muscle mass and are less active.
Sometimes that is indeed the case. However, we also know 11 and 12 year old pit bulls who are lean, athletic, and highly active. These “senior citizens” have greater energy requirements than many 3 year-olds, and they thrive on high fat raw diets.
Less active dogs of all ages can benefit from a diet that’s lower in fat and calories, but we shouldn’t assume that older dogs will automatically fall into this category.
If your canine senior citizen is lean and active, there’s no reason not to pick a high protein food that’s also high in fat (20% or more).
Otherwise, stick to a high protein food that limits fat content to 12-16%. Orijen Senior and EVO Weight Management are two kibbles that provide high levels of quality proteins (40% and 52% respectively) and a moderate amount of fat (15%).
If your older pit bull needs to lose weight, you may opt for slightly lower fat levels, but diets providing less than 9-10% fat tend to be counterproductive.
Not only does palatability drop significantly with super low fat foods, but your dog will be left feeling hungry and deprived. As a result, he’ll be more inclined to raid the garbage or “supplement” his meals in other ways.
The only time a super low fat diet may be indicated is if your pit bull has health problems that interfere with lipid metabolism. However, even dogs with chronic pancreatitis or EPI usually do not require a diet that supplies less than 9-10% fat.
What About Fiber For Senior Dogs?
Since older dogs are more prone to constipation, small amounts of fiber in your senior’s food can be beneficial.
Unfortunately some commercial foods formulated for seniors and overweight dogs contain high levels of low quality fiber (peanut hulls, cellulose, rice hulls, etc.) based on the erroneous belief that these indigestible fillers will enable dogs to “feel full” and be satisfied with lower calorie fare.
Research has shown that this is not the case. Not only do high fiber levels (8-10%, prescription diets can be even higher) not promote weight loss in dogs, but they can actually interfere with nutrient absorption.
Antioxidants And Nutraceuticals
A well formulated senior diet would contain increased amounts of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids (preferably from fish rather than plant sources), as well as glucosamine and chondroitin for the prevention of joint problems.
Probiotics and digestive enzymes can also be helpful for older dogs who do not absorb nutrients as efficiently as their younger counterparts. Keep in mind, though, that you can always add these supplements yourself.
We’ve gathered some of the best foods that are good for senior Pitbulls and basic information to keep them healthy. These recipes have lots of nutrients and minerals that help keep their joints healthy and strong.
Hopefully this article has helped you and your pet. Remember to always consult your veterinarian for more detailed and accurate information.