A lot has changed in the pet food industry with pet parents becoming consumers who take the time to ask questions about ingredients in food. The option for pet foods and treats has also tripled since those early years of educating people about the difference between natural, organic, and holistic.
Tripe is one of those proteins everyone in the pet food industry seems to be talking about right now. Even though tripe is still considered a food source for humans in a variety of cultures, many think of tripe as a new and novel protein for dogs or cats. The tripe that humans eat, however, differs from what is used in pet foods. For pets, the tripe, so-called green tripe, has not been—or should not be—bleached or scalded and will include some of the stomach’s last contents. That’s what makes it so beneficial for pets. Green tripe has been a popular food source among raw pet food feeders for over a decade. The difference between the green tripe raw food users purchase and what consumers have available now for pets is that green tripe comes in a variety of forms: in cans, as kibble, freeze-dried, and as treats. Are canned, kibble, or freeze-dried green tripe as nutritional as raw green tripe? It depends on the manufacturer. Pet food manufacturers are also a new breed compared to those from a decade ago.
What is tripe? Tripe is the stomach lining of a grass-fed animal, such as grazing cows, buffalo, bison, and lamb. It’s rich in naturally occurring essential fatty acids. It is easily digestible and provides good bacteria and amino acids, which can improve a dog’s or cat’s immune system. “Green” does not refer to the color of the tripe; it usually refers to whether the tripe was processed or not. Tripe of the stomach/intestines contain gastric juices and enzymes that provide seven essential amino acids which can benefit pets by building muscle, repairing tissues, and ensuring easy absorption of nutrients needed for health.
Another benefit besides all the amazing nutritional value is that green tripe treats both diarrhea and constipation. Dogs or cats can get either for a variety of reasons, such as eating something they shouldn’t have, experiencing a sudden change in diet, having a parasite, or having an irritable bowel, to name just a few. Green tripe is easily digested, and provides high amounts of lactobacillus acidophilus, a healthy probiotic that aids in controlling diarrhea or constipation.
Consumers at local pet stores who have had such great outcome with green tripe have been known to contact the manufacturer, including PetKind, regarding the product and its success. One consumer, Patricia, recently wrote this to PetKind: “I have been giving my 9-year-old dog, Ziggy, your New Zealand tripe product for the past couple of years after it was recommended by the staff at Paws & Claws in Oakland. I mix it in with her kibble and she loves it. Not only do I feel I am adding nutritional value to her food, but there is the added bonus that her stool is nice and solid. I just wanted to thank you for your fine product; Ziggy thanks you, too.”
Nutritionally conscious vets like green tripe, too. “Green tripe can be used as part of a fresh, whole-food diet or as a treat for dogs eating commercially prepared food. It provides high-quality protein and is an excellent source of phytonutrients due to the green plant material present,” said Gary Richter, D.V.M., of Montclair Veterinary Hospital and Holistic Veterinary Care both in Oakland.
While there are lots of pros for green tripe, there aren’t many cons. It can be stinky, depending on the exact form. And it can be a bit higher priced than some want to spend. However, many responsible pet owners and merchants feel better spending money now, for better pet foods, than on pharmaceuticals later to treat health issues that result from poor quality nutrition.
Ruth Villasenor is the co-owner Paws & Claws, A Natural Pet Food Store & Grooming Spa (PawsAndClawsOakland.com), in the Dimond district of Oakland. It opened in 2004, is the Bay Area’s first certified green pet food store, and carries a variety of tripe products.
Main article photo by: Photo courtesy of Ruth Villasenor