Green tripe is becoming a staple in natural and holistic dog foods, and is available in a variety of forms including raw, freeze-dried, canned, kibble, and treats. But what is tripe exactly, and are the nutritional claims accurate?
The following guide is designed to help you understand what you need to know about green tripe for dogs, including its origin, the potential benefits and drawbacks, and where to find it.
Because your pup’s nutritional and health needs are unique, a discussion about green tripe dog food–or any new product—should begin with your veterinarian.
What is Tripe?
Tripe is muscle tissue from the stomach of animals like pigs, cows, sheep, and deer. Beef (cow) tripe is the most common.
Each of a cow’s four-chambered stomachs produces a different variety of tripe. Of these, the most widely consumed is honeycomb-textured tripe from the second stomach (reticulum); and smooth tripe, which originates from the first stomach (rumen).
As is the case with other organ meats, tripe is considered a by-product. It’s what remains (the term for it is “offal”) after a farm animal has been killed for its muscle meat for human consumption. By-products have a reputation for being inferior, but offal—including tripe—is more nutritionally-dense than muscle meat (1).
There are also some differences in how tripe is processed. If you were to go to the grocer to buy tripe to cook for dinner, you’d likely find the white or processed kind, which has been bleached in hydrogen peroxide, cleaned, and cooked. This process, experts say, reduces the nutritional content.
The variety used in dog food and as treats is green tripe, which is actually brown in color, although it may have green tints if the farm animal had eaten grass. Green tripe hasn’t been bleached or cooked which means it retains more of its nutritional value.
Is Tripe Good for Dogs?
While the veterinary community hasn’t produced an abundance of data specifically on the nutritional value of tripe for dogs, the following are some factors to consider.
Potential nutritional benefits of tripe for dogs include:
Probiotics. Raw green tripe contains Lactobacillus acidophilus, a type of bacteria that originates in an animal’s gut (2). It is thought to improve gut health by controlling populations of harmful bacteria like Escherichia coli and Salmonella, which in turn promotes better gut immunity.
Studies on probiotics for dogs are promising. One study published in the American Journal of Veterinary Research found that L. acidophilus can potentially enhance intestinal health and improve immune function in dogs.
Essential fatty acids. Tripe has a good balance of omega-3 (an anti-inflammatory) and omega-6 fatty acids (3). Receiving too much or too little of either of these essential fatty acids is harmful for dogs.
Digestive enzymes. Tripe contains digestive enzymes which aid the digestive process by breaking down food and making nutrients more accessible (4).
Benefits of Green Tripe for Dogs
Though specific research is limited, green tripe is associated with a number of health benefits for dogs, and has some potential benefits for the environment as well.
Improves gut health. A healthy gut promotes a healthier immune system. The L. acidophilus contained in green tripe is a probiotic.
Aids in digestion. The same enzymes in green tripe that help cows digest food and absorb nutrients do the same for dogs.
Has a good balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. This is important because too much of either of these essential fatty acids can adversely impact a dog’s health.
Can entice picky eaters. The strong smell can be helpful in getting finicky or older dogs who may have a limited sense of smell, to eat their food.
It promotes less waste. Feeding dogs green tripe and other types of offal (which is essentially the leftovers from the animal that humans don’t consume) reduces the need to clear more land for agricultural use, or kill more cows and other animals for pet food.
Potential Drawbacks of Green Tripe for Dogs
As previously mentioned, veterinary research regarding the nutritional value of green tripe for dogs is limited. And there could be some reasons to avoid feeding it to your pup.
Some of the precautions or things to consider include:
Possible contamination from raw tripe. Raw foods are linked to exposure to pathogens like Salmonella and E. coli, which can cause illness in dogs, as well as people, especially the elderly, children, and immunocompromised individuals.
For this reason, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) generally recommends against feeding pets a raw diet.
If you are interested in feeding any raw diet to your dog, check with your veterinarian or a board-certified veterinary nutritionist about how to do so as safely as possible. It’s also a good idea to ask about portion size, how to make the diet complete and balanced and if the diet is appropriate for any medical conditions they may have.
The smell. People who’ve fed raw green tripe to their dogs say it’s quite stinky. While the pungent smell is off-putting to humans, dogs seem to be attracted to it.
Potential problems with the nutrient profile. Some green tripe products show inappropriately high levels of magnesium, copper, and sodium, and only trace amounts of Vitamins B1 and B2, with no other B vitamins.
If you want to feed green tripe to your dog, be sure to ask the company selling the product for a nutrient analysis of the product they are selling to you. Bring that information to your veterinarian and have them take a look to make sure it is safe to feed. Tripe should not be fed as a sole food item to your dog.
How to Give Green Tripe to Dogs
Green tripe for dogs comes in a variety of forms. Some of these are composed solely of tripe, while others include ingredients you’d find in regular dog food, like vegetables and supplements.
Here is an overview of forms of tripe and how you can include this ingredient into your dog’s diet.
Raw green tripe. Typically available as frozen or fresh green tripe. If you plan to feed raw tripe to your dog, make sure to consult your veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist to come up with a plan to keep your pet safe.
Freeze-dried green tripe. Freeze drying is a process that allows tripe to remain on store shelves for longer periods of time without losing its nutrients. Freeze-dried tripe typically comes as nuggets or mini patties. Freeze-drying does not decrease the potential bacterial contamination that can make your dog sick—only cooking it can do that.
Dry green tripe. Also available in kibble form.
Canned green tripe. While canned tripe doesn’t retain as many nutrients as fresh tripe, its strong smell can entice picky dogs to eat.
Green tripe chew sticks. These are intended as treats for dog, and are available in a variety of shapes and sizes.
If you’re purchasing green tripe from a dog food company, it’s easy enough to follow the serving instructions on the label. If it’s raw green tripe from your local meat vendor, you’ll need to figure out the proper portion to serve.
Whichever form of green tripe you choose, veterinarians recommend feeding a complete and balanced diet to meet a dog’s nutritional needs for a given life stage. In order for a food to be considered complete and balanced, it should be formulated according to standards set by the Association of American Feed Controls (AAFCO). A food that meets AAFCO guidelines will display a statement on the label.
If adding green tripe to your pet’s regular food, make sure the amount given (in addition to all other treats) does not exceed 10 percent of your pet’s daily calorie intake.
Also, quality of tripe varies by manufacturer, especially when it comes to the pet treat market, so look to do business with companies you trust.
Where to Buy Green Tripe for Dogs
As green tripe for dogs has become more widespread, finding it in a variety of forms is relatively easy. Here are a few places where you might look for green tripe for your pup.
Veterinary clinics. This is a good place to start, especially since your veterinarian already knows your dog’s specific nutritional needs.
Pet supply shops, including online retailers. You’ll find many of the commercial varieties of green tripe in stores, including freeze-dried, raw, canned, and dry. Make sure you know where the meat was raised and where it was processed. Products raised and processed in the USA are much safer than products coming from other countries.
Local farms and butchers. Some may have green tripe available, but you’ll still need to understand proper nutritional formulation so that your dog receives the appropriate amount of nutrients, portion control to avoid obesity, and safety protocols.
Grocers and health food stores. Commercial tripe made especially for dogs may be available in a store’s pet aisle. The tripe that stocked in the meat aisle, however, is likely the white, processed kind, intended for human consumption.
If you’re considering feeding green tripe to your dog, the key is to make sure you’re taking precautions and feeding the right kind. It’s also imperative that your pup still receives a complete and balanced diet. Ask your veterinarian if green tripe is a good option for your dog.