Exercise and Diet: How to Keep Your Pitbull Healthy

A healthy pitbull is a happy one, and keeping your dog in excellent condition is about providing them with good food and plenty of fun and games.

Dec 27, 2023By Lisa Szymanski
exercise and diet how to keep your pitbull healthy

Every dog lover only wants the very best for their pets, and that means exercise, balanced meals, and lots of cuddle time. When it comes to the pitbull, these dogs are large and in charge. They have exceptional muscle tone and perform really well in endurance and stamina-related activities. But they are also prone to genetic hip and knee conditions, so nutrition should be prioritized with these dogs. To better understand their diet and activity requirements, let’s learn all about how to keep your pitbull healthy.

The Nutritional Requirements of Pitbulls

blue pitbull standing licking its nose
Good nutrition can help aging pitbulls.

Pitbulls, with their powerful bodies and high energy, should be fed a diet consisting of more than 20% protein. In combination with exercise, lean protein sources such as chicken, lamb, turkey, and rabbit encourage muscle development to support aging joints. To meet the nutritional needs of these loyal and strong dogs, you should consider their energy levels and genetic conditions associated with the breed. Vitamin-enriched meals help with growth and vitality, while supplements such as fish oil are meant to protect their joints against degeneration. A major cause of limited mobility in pitbulls is arthritis in dogs, so be sure to give them a quality diet from a young age to build bone and muscle strength. Pitbulls can consume a raw diet, but if you decide to feed them a commercial diet, always determine whether their minimum protein requirements are met.

What to Look for in Commercial Dog Food

pitbull nibbling on food in dog bowl
Avoid too many fillers in mainstream dog food.

If you are feeding a commercial dog food, the product must state which protein sources are used so that you know what you’re feeding your pet. This way, if they have an upset tummy or develop itchy skin, you can determine whether a meat source such as chicken is the culprit. It shouldn’t contain large amounts of fillers, including grain sources such as corn, wheat, maize, and soybeans that can trigger allergies in this breed. Not all grains are bad, and some of them can provide dogs with energy. But if you notice changes, from constant scratching and hair fall to digestive problems, then it’s worth investigating the ingredients in their food.

What You Shouldn’t Feed Pitbulls

black pitbull in green field barking
Keep your pitbull lean with healthy meal choices.

Pitbulls can gain weight quickly, particularly in their old age if they aren’t very active. The extra weight places pressure on their joints, which may already be affected by arthritis. Avoid feeding them high-fat foods and table scraps, and instead, introduce healthy treats they’ll love. Tidbits including dried salmon skin, chicken necks, liver biltong, and chicken feet (without the claws) are good protein sources. These types of chew treats are excellent for cleaning teeth and relieving boredom at the same time. Be mindful of feeding knuckles and bones that can become lodged in their throats or create obstructions in their stomachs.

Top Activities to Keep Pitbulls in Shape

pitbull playing in water holding stick in its mouth
Some pitbulls love playing in water.

I would best describe pitbulls as naturally curious creatures with a ton of energy. These dogs can frolic through the grass, on the beach, and even go for mountain hikes with their handlers. Their need for physical and mental stimulation means finding activities suited to their age, energy level, and interests. The reason that I mention interests is that every pitbull has a different personality. While one dog may love swimming, another dog will stay far away from the water and happily play fetch all day long. You can introduce your pitbull to swimming, flyball, fetch, and agility activities. Pitbull puppies and older dogs thoroughly enjoy tug-rope games, but major resistance and thrashing while holding the rope should be corrected. Games and exercise with your pitbull are meant to be fun and burn energy without becoming a dominance contest.

Walking Your Pitbull

black pitbull standing outdoors
Pitbulls maintain muscle and burn energy with regular walks.

Of course, you can never go wrong with a daily walk; just remember to correct any pulling on lead. These are strong dogs, and without firm guidance and leadership, they’ll easily pull you off your feet. I’ve been dragged down the road when my dog decided to unexpectedly chase after a cat, and it wasn’t a pleasant experience! If you have a pitbull puppy, make walks and socialization with other friendly dogs a weekly activity. That’s provided your puppy is up to date with their Parvo and Distemper vaccinations. Another factor to consider is their high prey drive. If pitbulls are not socialized or corrected with small animals, they’ll most likely chase after them when off-lead, so be mindful of this when you’re out. Remember that pitbulls have a lot of energy, so a daily walk as exercise is a must. It will go a long way toward toning their muscles while providing stimulation. It is also a great bonding experience with your fur friend.

How to Have Fun Raising a Healthy Pitbull

blue pitbull running in snow
Pitbulls are playful and energetic.

Every pitbull can benefit from a combination of regular exercise and a tasty, balanced diet. Nutrition is certainly important when considering what to feed them because they are prone to developing conditions that affect their joints and skin. Fortunately, providing supplements like fish oil for the skin and joints can help many dogs with their mobility and irritated skin. Along with a good diet, raising a pitbull should be a fun and rewarding experience. These loyal dogs love to be with you, and they have incredible personalities, so keep them balanced and happy with high-energy activities. Daily walks, hikes, swimming, and running with your dog are stimulating exercises and great fun for you and your pittie.

Lisa Szymanski
By Lisa Szymanski

Lisa is a wildlife enthusiast who enjoys hiking and gardening and has four years of experience volunteering at pet shelters. She is the proud mom of two dogs, a Pitbull named Ragnar, a Boerboel named Blueberry, and four feisty chickens, or as she calls them, the "queens of the yard," Goldie, Gray, Peaches, and Brownie.