Most of our clients are looking for ways to keep their pets healthier and extend their lives as long as possible. But many still choose to feed highly processed pet food because of its convenience and affordability. Such diets are far removed from the natural diet of dogs and cats. Although these animals have been domesticated for thousands of years, their dietary needs have not changed significantly. Commercial pet foods only came into existence within the last century. The evolution of cats and dogs has proceeded throughout time without these diets.
Most pets thrive on a diet consisting of predominately fresh meat. One fresh meat ingredient with many health benefits is raw green tripe – the entire unprocessed stomach of a cud-chewing animal such as a cow or deer. In the wild, carnivorous animals prey on herbivores and consume the entire animal, including the stomach and entrails. It may be hard for some of our clients to imagine that their cute little dogs would stalk and hunt live animals, but domestication has not totally removed this instinct. If they have ever observed their cats stalking a bug or their dog “killing” a plush toy to remove the squeaker, they are seeing this natural instinct in action.
Tripe has always been a very important component of the carnivore’s diet. Though most humans regard it as unusual, raw green tripe is a natural and beneficial food.
• Raw green tripe offers a balance of nutrients as well as beneficial bacteria and enzymes. It has been nutritionally analyzed and found to have a desirable calcium:phosphorus ratio of 1:1. Green tripe’s pH is acidic, the protein is 15.1%, and the fat is 11.7%. It also has the correct proportions of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.
• One of the best constituents of raw green tripe is lactobacillus acidophilus. This is one of the intestinal bacteria that keep unwanted bacteria such as e-coli, salmonella and listeria from overpopulating and causing health problems. As we know, a balance of microflora in the gut is extremely important to maintaining good health. The intestines only contain enough food for a certain amount of bacteria, but by adding tripe to a pet’s diet, the population of good bacteria will outnumber the bad. These probiotics help keep the animal’s immune system in top shape. Think of tripe as “Activia©” for pets. I have used raw green tripe for dogs that had digestive problems with great success.
• Another beneficial component of raw green tripe is digestive enzymes. The enzymes that help the ruminant digest its meal will give the pet the same benefit. Dogs and cats do not naturally produce amylase, so the nutrients present in vegetative matter are not readily available to them. Raw green tripe contains not only digestive enzymes, but in most cases, some pre-digested green matter as well. This combination of enzymes and nutrients provide pets with a nutritional powerhouse.
There are many different forms of green tripe available on the market.
• Tripe found in the supermarket has been cleaned and bleached and offers no nutritional benefits to the pet.
• Raw green tripe should be obtained from grass fed cows rather than those raised in feedlots.
• It is easiest for most veterinary clinics to sell raw green tripe from commercial manufacturers that process and freeze it for them.
• Some companies offer large pieces of fresh raw green tripe that are very tough and abrasive. This form of tripe is a great way to clean a dog’s teeth and provide some chewing time. It is best fed outdoors as it lasts a long time and is very “aromatic”.
• Local co-ops or farms that offer grass fed beef are the first places to inquire if they are willing to sell raw green tripe directly to the consumer.
• In California, companies like RawGreenTripe.com offer many different forms of tripe that can be shipped to the clinic or directly to your clients.
• The most popular form of raw tripe is ground, either fresh or frozen. Ground tripe can be fed in a bowl, as with any other type of diet, and is the best form for cats.
• Freeze dried tripe is also available. The freeze drying process makes the tripe shelf stable while allowing it to retain its nutrients and enzymes. Freeze dried tripe is usually made into nuggets or mini patties. These are great training treats and also come in handy as a food topper for that picky eater. One company offering freeze dried tripe is Vital Essentials. Freeze dried tripe has excellent palatability so is especially good for cats. Nuggets of freeze dried tripe are also great to use as treats in the clinic to gain the trust of patients that are reluctant to be examined.
• Canned green tripe is available for those who can’t find other forms in their area. Tripett is one brand that cans their tripe at a lower temperature to retain its nutritional benefits. Canned tripe will not contain the same quantity of good bacteria or enzymes found in the other forms, but it is still beneficial as an incentive to eat because it retains its potent aroma. This form is great for anorexic patients that have refused all other offerings. Many independent pet retail stores are now carrying tripe in the canned or frozen ground form.
With education, the raw food category in the pet food industry will continue to grow. By offering alternative foods to your clients, you are ensuring your patients are getting the micronutrients and enzymes they are meant to consume. And you are also increasing repeat retail business.