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Trippin' on Tripe

Tripe is the stomach lining of a ruminant animal like a cow, goats or sheep (1, 2). Animals such as these have a three or four-chambered stomach which systematically breaks down grasses and other plant material with the abundance of digestive enzymes, gastric juices and amino acids contained in the stomach (2, 3).

Tripe can come in various colors. The most common are white and green. The white type will always be found in grocery stores for human consumption. Typically, this is NOT the kind you want. It is cleaned and bleached (4), eliminating all the beneficial components rendering it useless for dogs, cats, and ferrets. Cooking also destroys the vital nutrients in tripe (5, 6, 7) so please never cook your tripe, the bacteria and enzymes contained within are good!

Although most tripe is the color green due to the green plant matter most ruminant animals eat, it can be tan and various shades of brown. The term green really refers to the fact that it is untouched and unprocessed. The green kind of tripe is what is recommended. This type of tripe is almost never found at grocery stores or is even illegal in some places like Australia. However, there are many online suppliers that sell it as well as farmers and butchers.

Proponents of tripe boast that it contains good bacteria and enzymes which help digest the food that enters it. So, your cat or dog benefits from these digestive actions as well however other benefits stated include:

• Promoting healthy digestion • Offering a boost to the immune system • Increasing appetite • Soothes GI (gastrointestinal)upset and infections) • Great for pets with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) • Great for pets with seasonal outdoor allergies • Increased energy levels and stamina • Contains fatty acids • Perfect calcium to phosphorus ratio • Can help underweight companions gain weight • Source of trace vitamins and minerals

So how does tripe do all this supposedly awesome stuff? The good bacteria in the stomach boosts the immunity by outnumbering any bad bacteria and maintaining a healthy flora in the gut (9, 10, 11). These good bacteria and enzymes are then consumed by your companion when they eat tripe (2).

To gain such benefits tripe lovers recommend feeding up to 15-20% of the meat portion as tripe.

This all sounds too good to be true, right? Well, honestly it is. Bottom line tripe stinks, and we aren’t just talking about its potent smell. There are a few important things to remember

Ruminant animals have numerous stomach chambers. This is a lining that is the chamber called the stomach. It secretes the digestive enzymes and beneficial bacteria for an herbivore to break down the food they consume (2,3). This does not translate into enzymes and beneficial bacteria of a carnivore and certainly won’t help a prey model raw feed cat, dog or ferret or doesn’t (and shouldn’t) consume plant matter.

Beneficial bacteria and digestive enzymes have developed and evolved to survive in the gut of ruminant animals. Any change in their environment that deviates from that of the gut in almost all cases destroys heat, air and light sensitive enzymes and bacteria (6, 7, 12, 13, 14, 15). Therefore, when the tripe is removed even in basic processing most of its benefits are removed as well. Also, be reminded that ruminant animals are constantly eating, therefore, beneficial bacteria and enzymes have constant access to nutrients and foodstuff (16, 17). Most carnivores in the wild gorge and fast while our homebound carnivores eat only 1-2 meals a day. Thus, this also results in the death of many of the beneficial organisms and enzymes.

If the tripe is further processed such as chopped or ground many beneficial bacteria or enzymes most likely are further destroyed (18) Therefore, the following claims aren’t entirely true:

• Promoting healthy digestion • Soothes GI (gastrointestinal) upset and infections • Great for pets with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)

So, which of these claims are true?

Almost Perfect calcium to phosphorus ratio (19)

TRUE but….Tripe may have the perfect ratios but one must also feed the appropriate amount to fulfill the calcium/phosphorus requirement for their specific companion. That being said one must also feed a variety of meat, organs, and bone on a rotation in order to truly provide a complete and balanced diet. You cannot simply feed one food item and expect a companion animal to receive all the nutrients they need in the proper quantities.

Increasing appetite

TRUE .because tripe has such a potent smell it really can inspire the pickiest eater

Offering a boost to the immune system, Great for pets with seasonal outdoor allergies and Increased energy levels and stamina

KIND OF TRUE ….while feeding a species appropriate raw diet which could include the stomach of ruminant animals will certainly aid in a healthier companion animal (especially compared to a commercial fed one) the immune boosting component would have been the beneficial bacteria and enzymes that process and remove toxins as well as cleanse and purify (20). Since more of these creatures are destroyed, the tripe isn’t going to boost the immune system from this standpoint (21).

Can help underweight companions gain weight

KIND OF FALSE… In 113 grams of green tripe, only 2.29 grams is fat and 16 grams is protein (22). Comparing this value to 113 grams of beef, the beef contains 22.6 grams of fat and 19.43 grams of protein (23). Even 113 grams of chicken has 4.4 grams of fat and 22.2 grams of protein (24) in it compared to tripe.

Overall with a variety of proteins. An addition of more fatty meats and cuts such as lamb, duck, beef etc. as well as the addition of more calorically dense foods one can achieve weight gain without relying heavily on tripe.

Contains fatty acids and Source of trace vitamins and minerals

KIND OF TRUE …pretty much all meat including tripe will contain fatty acids and trace minerals. In about 113 grams of tripe, there are 7.9 mg of Omega 3s and 141 mg of Omega 6 (22). Is this enough to benefit the skin and coat or count as a good source of Omegas? Tripe alone, probably not depending on what source you find for the amount to feed. Some suggest a dog should have around 10 mg per 1lb of body weight and cats should have 10.2-15 mg per lb of body weight while others believe it can be feed 15%-20% of the diet. Again, variety is key so while tripe may contribute a small amount of omega 3s, an alternative source must be used since the omega 6s (pro-inflammatory) (25 outweigh the 3s (anti-inflammatory) by 17 times in tripe.

While it’s not harmful to feed green tripe from ruminant animals like cow, goats, and alpaca, there is a lot of hype surrounding this stinky raw food product. There is actually little value to tripe especially when it compares to the long list of benefit claims. There are many more alternatives to achieve balance and digestive relief in the way of digestive enzymes and beneficial bacteria in the gut than feeding tripe.


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