Tripe

Most people will have heard of tripe and have heard that it stinks, whether it’s from people that have fed tripe to their pets, or from people that have memories of old family members cooking tripe for their dinner.
Maybe you have seen it in the grocery store in the meat section (white tripe), or seen it mentioned on pet food labels (green tripe).

Bad news
The rumours you have heard are true, tripe stinks!
You will however eventually get past the smell and those dry-heaves will go away with time.
Instead of thinking about the horrible smell, think about all of the great stuff tripe has to offer your pet.

But what actually is tripe?
Tripe is the nutritiously rich lining from the stomach of (various) ruminant mammals that are able to get their nutrients from plant based food like hay and grass, by fermenting it in a specialized stomach before digestion, principally through microbial actions.
Ruminants differ from non-ruminants because they have a four chambered stomach.
The four chambers of such a stomach are known as the rumen, reticulum, omasum and the abomasum.

The food is swallowed un-chewed and passes into the rumen and reticulum where it is then regurgitated, chewed and mixed with saliva
The process typically requires the fermented ingesta (known as cud) to be regurgitated and chewed again,  before being passed through the reticulum and omasum into the abomasum, where it is then further broken down by the gastric juices, amino acids and other digestive enzymes.

The process of re-chewing the cud to further break down plant matter and stimulate digestion is called rumination, which means “to chew over again”.

Tripe is made from the muscle wall (the interior mucosal lining is removed) of only the first three chambers of a ruminant’s stomach: the rumen (blanket/flat/smooth tripe), the reticulum (honeycomb and pocket tripe), and the omasum (book/bible/leaf tripe).
Even though most of the tripe on the market comes from farm animals like cows, other ruminating mammals include goats, sheep, giraffes, bison, moose, elk, yaks, water buffalo, deer, camels, alpacas, llamas, and antelope.

Difference between white and green tripe
At the beginning of this page you might have noticed that I’ve mentioned tripe in two different ways.
White tripe (human consumption)
Green tripe (meant for pets)
The reason for this has all to do with the nutritional benefit.

White Tripe

White tripe or otherwise known as washed or dressed tripe means that the stomachs are cleaned and the fat trimmed off.
It is then boiled and bleached, giving it its white colour as seen on market stalls and in butcher shops and is fit for human consumption.

This washed / bleached white tripe is preferably not what we want to feed our pets.

Green Tripe

Green tripe is different from tripe used for human consumption, as green tripe is unbleached and minimally processed, so it keeps most of its nutritional value.
Green tripe does not necessarily refer to its colour.
It refers more to the fact that it has not been processed (not cleaned, not bleached and not scalded}. Its actual colour can vary from brown to grey, though sometimes there will be a greenish tint to it due to the grass or hay the animal has eaten before slaughtering.

As explained previously on this page, tripe is the lining (wall) of the stomach which you can compare to a large cloth, soaking up digestive and gastric juices which are rich in nutrients such as, essential fatty acids omega 3 & 6, and it is great source of protein.

So how can something so horrible, be so good?
The same digestive enzymes and beneficial bacteria that help the ruminant animal digest food may do the same for your pet
These same gastric juices and enzymes will not only aid your pet’s digestion, but also aids with efficiently utilizing his food.
Digestive enzymes aid in digestion, meaning the body does not have to use as much energy when digesting a meal.
This means your pet gets the most nutritional benefit from his meals.
Digestive enzymes also do much more than help with digestion, they purify and cleanse the blood and remove toxins, parasites and fungus.
They also improve metabolism, hormonal function and boost the immune system.
Cooking destroys digestive enzymes, so it is important that your dog’s tripe is not only green, but also raw.
An added bonus is the amino acids, which are needed for muscular development.

Often pets suffer from an enzyme deficiency, which can expose itself in the following symptoms: anxiety, lack of energy, chronic diarrhoea and digestive problems, gingivitis, viral and bacterial infections and yeast overgrowth.
These symptoms are more common in pets that eat a cooked or commercial diet, so adding green tripe to a cooked or kibble diet would benefit them as well as a raw fed pet.

The gut is populated by hundreds of different kinds of bacteria or microflora which are divided into good and bad bacteria.
The bad bacteria are those responsible for health complaints, some of their members include e- coli, salmonella, campylobacter and listeria.
These bacteria are found in foods and environment which could potentially make your pet ill if it wasn’t for the protection of the ‘good’ bacteria.
The good bacteria improve immune function simply by outnumbering the bad bacteria and maintaining a healthy micro-flora in the gut.

L.acidophilus Acidophilus is one of the most important “good” bacteria populating your pet’s gut. Your pet’s gut can only feed so many micro-organisms, so the more good bacteria your pet consumes, the less bad bacteria will find anything to eat and they will get crowded out.
Lactobacilli work with other beneficial gut bacteria to stop disease-causing bacteria such as listeria, salmonella and E-coli from making your dog very ill. Since the intestines provide just enough food to maintain specific bacteria populations, adding raw green tripe to your dog’s daily diet will support the ability of “good” bacteria to outnumber and overwhelm “bad” bacteria populations.

Many health issues are caused by imbalance in the micro-flora.
Frequently depleted by stress, illness or use of antibiotic medications, lactobacilli in dogs helps prevent recurring diarrhoea and urinary tract infections, enhances overall digestive health and improves coat condition.
Maintaining adequate amounts of lactobacilli in older dogs by feeding them green tripe may also reduce joint pain caused by arthritis.
Older pets are especially prone to this as they tend to have lower levels of beneficial bacteria in their guts.
Supplementing your pet’s diet with lots of raw, green tripe will help him maintain a healthy balance of micro-flora, manufacture more B vitamins, and may aid in the prevention of many health disorders.
If your pet already suffers from health issues, consider adding raw green tripe to his diet.

We have now learned that green tripe is loaded with digestive enzymes and probiotics, but it doesn’t stop here.
Green tripe also has the perfect ratio of calcium to phosphorus ( 1:1).
Green tripe also contains the essential fatty acids, Linoleic and Linolenic, in their recommended proportions.

Benefits of green Tripe for pets

  • Aids digestion
  • Enhances the immune system
  • Aids in the treatment of diarrhoea and GI infections
  • Aids in the treatment of chronic constipation
  • Aids in the treatment of symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Lowers the risk of pollen allergies (when green tripe is sourced locally)

Picky Eaters
Green tripe has a very potent smell, but if you can stomach it, tripe can interest even pickiest of pets.
Pets love the strong smell, which is particularly good for seniors who have lost some of their sense of smell.
Feed it as a part of your pet’s regular diet, or as a nutritious treat

Sensitive Stomach
Green tripe is very easy to digest.
In fact, green tripe is partially digested already, since it comes from another animal’s stomach. Freeze-dried, frozen, or fresh tripe is the best for naturally occurring probiotics and digestive enzymes.
If your pet has Leaky Gut syndrome or acid reflux, tripe is very digestible and can ease these symptoms.

Red blood cell formation and detox
Tripe’s rich chlorophyll content is not only advantageous to reducing the occurrence of gastrointestinal problems but also contributes to red blood cell and hemoglobin formation while detoxifying your dog’s blood and lymph systems.
The carnivore’s lymphatic system is closely associated with the cardiovascular system because it helps maintain proper fluid balance between soft tissues and blood vessels.
In addition, when the lymphatic system is free of toxins, pets enjoy stronger immune responses to invading pathogens and increased energy due to lymph fluid promoting absorption of digested fats in the intestines.

Weight Gain or Illness Recovery
Green tripe smells horrible to us, but most pets love the smell and taste.
This makes it an easy choice for pets that need to gain weight, whether they are just underweight or if they are recovering from illness.
The weight gained will be a healthy weight, built on calories full of the vitamins, minerals, and nutrition that your dog needs to restore and maintain proper system functioning.

Weight Loss and Weight Maintenance
Wait what? Weight gain and loss?
Many pets gain weight when fed traditional carbohydrate heavy kibble.
Carbohydrates often provide quick energy, not lasting energy that will keep your pet satisfied, like proteins and healthy fats.
Tripe contains concentrated calories, but the calories are full of nutrients as well that will support your pet’s system functioning.
Tripe makes a great supplement to any weight loss diet for your pet, as it will help them feel full. Your pet also won’t miss out on needed nutrients, which is the danger of restrictive diets.
You can feed it as a healthy treat by freezing it into cubes..

Pets with Kidney Problems
Pets with kidney problems need a medium to high protein, high fat and low to no phosphorous diet, but often lack in appetite.
As pets love tripe, when given a healthy serving of this protein and its perfect phosphorus/calcium ratio, mid level protein levels and slightly acidic Ph, it makes it perfect for ill as well as healthy pets.
Feeding a protein source such as tripe that is highly digestible is likely more beneficial to pets with kidney problems than the low protein, hard to digest prescription diets that so many pets are given and that are so lacking in complete nutrition.
Pets really don’t enjoy these prescription diets but they do love tripe.

Tripe for Pregnant or Nursing Mothers
Tripe is full of vitamins, minerals, protein, and healthy fats, which makes it the perfect addition to your pregnant or nursing pet’s diet.
Feeding her quality nutrition at this time in her life gives her the energy that she needs for her puppies, but won’t make her pack on the pounds.
The extra calcium it contains should suit your pregnant or nursing pet’s needs and the nearly perfect ratio of calcium to phosphorus (which is required for calcium uptake) is highly desirable and rare in a whole food.
This being said though over supplementing calcium is not good for any pet be it healthy or ill so even when you think a pregnant or lactating pet needs a higher calcium intake, remember too much is not good, not even in pregnant  or lactating females

Tripe for Allergies
Tripe is one of the best proteins to try for dogs suffering from a variety of allergies, especially when you can source your tripe locally.
Tripe is a protein that is often tolerated well, even by very allergic pets, and one I definitely suggest to owners that are new to raw feeding and have a pet with allergies.

Tripe for Coprophagia
Can’t get your dog to stop eating poop?
The digestive enzymes in green tripe are said to help dogs that eat faeces for the digestive enzymes it contains.
While there are a number of reasons why dogs eat poop, including anxiety, stress, and boredom (to name a few), this solution takes care of the dietary cause.

Tripe for Dental Health
If you can find some raw or freeze dried tripe in large chunks or pieces, it has a quite rubbery texture, which is great for dogs to chew on. This makes it a tasty, natural chew that is great for oral health. Canned tripe for dogs is still a healthy natural food.
Ground tripe does not have the same dental benefits.

Shiny Coat and Healthy Skin
One of the things that gets notice when feeding tripe to pets  is the change in their pet’s skin and coat.
It is well known that a healthy, beautiful coat is an indication of general wellness in pets.
Feeding a natural diet makes an enormous difference in skin and coat.
Tripe is known to produce healthy skin and a beautiful shiny coat for pets eating it as one of their main protein sources.
Many people confuse tripe to be organ meat, but, this is not the case.
The stomach is a muscle and as tripe is the lining (wall) of that muscle, it needs to be counted as another protein source and added to the total meat allowance, and not the organ allowance.

Now that we have read about the many benefits of green tripe, are they actually true?
Green tripe is a highly recommended ingredient in many raw diets.
It is praised for benefits like probiotics, a balanced 1:1 calcium phosphorus ratio, and palatability.
Some claim green tripe is needed in a raw diet, whilst others claim green tripe on its own is a balanced diet for pets.

There is both good news and bad news.
The bad news is that many of the benefits of green tripe are over rated.
The good news is that it is still a useful protein to feed.
Thanks to its smell, tripe is very appealing to most pets, which is great to encourage picky eaters to eat their organs or fish, for example.
Green tripe is a great source of manganese, one of the minerals that tend to fall short in a raw diet, as it normally isn’t found in high enough amounts in other protein sources.
This means that green tripe is the primary source of manganese in a lot of raw diets.
Tripe fed in large rubbery chunks will give your pet with good exercise /mental stimulation and better dental health.
Green tripe contains digestive enzymes that may benefit your pet, but these enzymes are meant to help a ruminant animal digest a herbivorous diet, so they may not be very useful to a raw fed pet that gets little to no starch in their diet (though this has not been extensively researched and thus there is no scientific evidence that this statement is true or false).

Is green tripe on its own a balanced diet
It is a myth that green tripe alone is a balanced diet.
This may have come about due to some of the canned green tripe products available that are being advertise as a balanced diet.
This might be true for that product, but it does not apply to raw green tripe when fed on its own.
A closer look at the ingredient list of tinned green tripe shows a list of synthetic vitamins and minerals that were added in order to meet minimum dietary requirements, which are not present in raw tripe, in addition that during the canning process the tripe is slightly cooked, depleting some of its nutritional value

A lot of people misunderstand the calcium phosphorus ratio.
Calcium and phosphorus work together and are both needed for skeletal health.
If there is too much or not enough of one, it will affect the body’s requirement for the other.
So even if the body is getting the minimum requirement of dietary phosphorus, but too much calcium, the body will need more phosphorus for bone growth and basic skeletal functions, leading to a deficiency of phosphorus.
This has been shown to lead to skeletal issues like hip dysplasia.
Too much phosphorus and not enough calcium, on the other hand, have been shown to accelerate the progression of renal failure.
This is why it is important to feed not only the minimum requirements of these nutrients, but also be sure to feed a diet with a proper ratio, especially for growing puppies and large breed dogs , a ratio of 1:1 to 1.2:1 is recommended.

A good ratio of calcium to phosphorus doesn’t mean it has enough to meet the minimum requirements for either mineral, it just means that the ratio of the amounts of calcium to phosphorus is 1:1.
This isn’t really that important, because the rest of the diet will still need to have a balanced ratio.
Conclusion,  a diet of just green tripe and nothing else will definitely be deficient in not only calcium and phosphorus, but many other nutrients.
In other words, green tripe on its own is not a balanced diet.

Is green tripe a good source of probiotics?
Tripe is not the reliable or effective source of probiotics as claimed by many.
Earlier I have already explained that tripe is the stomach of a ruminant animal.
Like other mammals they have loads of different microorganisms that live in their stomach and intestines.
Just one drop of rumen fluid contains numbers of microorganisms that add up to more than 10 times the number of humans on Earth.
Most of these organisms are beneficial bacteria, which produce the enzyme cellulase that helps to digest cellulose, the main part of plant cell walls.
Obviously this is important for an animal that is designed to mainly eat vegetation like grass, but not so much for our carnivores who eat meat.

These organisms have adapted to survive in the conditions of the ruminant’s stomach, if the conditions in the stomach change; it affects the organisms inside the stomach.
Ruminants are designed to graze on food throughout the day and not to be fed larger amounts of food in one or two meals as this can cause the pH of the rumen to fluctuate, resulting in the death of so much of the organisms that they can’t utilize their food as effectively.

PH fluctuation can kill off these organisms and many of them will die in temperatures changes (under 40c) and as they have adapted to the conditions inside the ruminant’s digestive system, the majority of them are obligate anaerobes, which means they die in the presence of oxygen.
So when a ruminant is slaughtered and the tripe is harvested, most of the bacteria die right away due to the exposure to oxygen and the drastic change in temperature.

Tripe usually goes through further processing, such as grinding or chopping, and is then stored in the freezer (naturally, this kills off even more temperature sensitive, anaerobic bacteria).
Some organisms in the tripe can still survive after being harvested, processed, and frozen, but the longer the tripe is frozen, the more of them die and as many of these organisms are actually dependent on each other for survival by utilizing each other’s by products, the deaths cause a chain reaction and results in the death of more and more organisms.

Some do still survive, including small amounts of lactic acid bacteria, most notably those classified in the genus Lactobacillus, but the amount of lactic acid bacteria that actually survives will depend on a number of things, for example how long the tripe has been frozen for, and the rate of temperature drop (if the tripe is just thrown into a freezer, the sharp change in temperature can kill some of the bacteria, but studies have shown that a slower transition to low temperatures can allow more of the bacteria to adapt and survive).

Their survival will also depend on whether or not the bacteria have enough food available to survive. Because they obtain energy only from the metabolism of sugars, lactic acid bacteria are restricted to environments in which sugars are available.
In a lab setting, successful samples of these types of bacteria require that they are cultivated in complex media that fulfil all their nutritional requirements, but in the case of tripe there will be a finite amount of sugars for them to survive on, and eventually they will starve.

If tripe does have some surviving probiotic bacteria left, the amount will be far less than what would be found in a typical probiotic product.

Long story short, the majority of probiotic bacteria does not survive by the time the tripe ends up in your pet’s bowl. This is why advertising tripe as having a significant probiotic benefit isn’t completely true.

Now that we got all this out of the way, should you still be feeding tripe?
Only because you have just learned that green tripe on its own is not a balanced diet, and it doesn’t contain a significant amount of probiotics doesn’t mean you shouldn’t feed it.
As mentioned earlier, the smell of tripe tends to convince even the pickiest eaters to try it and it’s a great source of manganese.
Tripe is a good protein source to add more variety to your pet’s raw diet, just don’t feed it exclusively, and don’t rely on it alone for probiotics.
If your pet needs probiotics, you will get much better results if you add another source like Kefir or a probiotic supplement.

Where can I buy Green Tripe?
Like many products, green tripe comes in many different qualities.
For your pet’s best health and nutrition, make sure the green tripe you feed is:

  • From “grass-fed” or “free-range”, not feedlot animals.
  • Minimally processed. Fresh is always best, followed by frozen and freeze-dried.

These can be referred to as raw tripe.

  • Locally sourced when available ensures high standards in production and safety.

Green tripe can be a bit difficult to find and you will not find it in your local supermarket.
You will also not find it in most large (licensed) slaughterhouses.
There are however some pet stores that will sell raw green tripe, or you can look for a raw pet food supplier online

Alternatively you can look for a smaller butcher, who does custom killing.

Be prepared though, as they will want if off their property as soon as possible and you may need to supply your own buckets to take it home in.

It is also important to note that tripe contain loads of bacteria.
Use care when handling, as we humans do not have the natural resistance to harmful bacteria like our pets do.
Preferable wear gloves, and wash your hands thoroughly after handling.

Finding sources of tripe can be a daunting task and when you finally find it, you will discover that the hard part is just beginning!
Cutting tripe can be a nightmare.
Tripe is much easier to cut if it is partially frozen, if you don’t freeze it prior to cutting,
you will need a very sharp knife to cut through your tripe and you might need more than one as your knife will become dull quickly.
Cutting tripe will be easier if you hang the tripe up (or hold with one hand) and cut it with the other, sawing it into chunks.

Try to avoid canned tripe.
I understand that not everyone is able to go to a local store or butcher and get fresh raw green tripe.
Quality, low-heat processed canned varieties should still provide many of the same benefits as raw green tripe, although some heat sensitive contents, such as probiotics and digestive enzymes, may be lost.