Growing up in the San Jose, pho restaurants were just as plentiful as Starbucks--there were as many as four per square mile. During cold winter days, my family would pile into our van and drive down the street to Pho Mai to get our fix, and at this little shop, was where I learned what tripe was. As a kid, I never liked the bumpy, rubbery texture of tripe and preferred to order my pho with steak instead. I never dreamed, that in my adult life, I would be purchasing and feeding tripe to my beloved dogs.
As I stood over my kitchen sink, gagging over the smell, and cut into the raw lamb tripe, my first thought was, “This looks nothing like the tripe I’ve eaten!” After doing a bit more digging, I learned a lot more about tripe, which we at Real Dog Box aptly call, “green gold.
What is Green Tripe?
So what is green tripe? “The Stink on Tripe” defines tripe as “the stomach lining of the ruminating animal, such as cattle, sheep, buffalo, goats, and deer.” Ruminants have four stomachs, and what makes green tripe gold is the “slew of digestive enzymes, gastric juices and amino acids” that helps break down grasses. It is also a great natural source of probiotics, particularly Lactobacillus Acidophilus. It tends to have a strong smell, but that is what makes it so appealing to dogs. It's not called "green" just because of the color, but rather because it's not bleached, so it comes in its raw uncleaned state. You can clearly see the difference between tripe that comes from grassfed vs. grainfed animals - grassfed animal tripe is super green while grainfed animal tripe is brown.
Why Green Tripe?
I quickly learned that green tripe is very different from the tripe that I had during my childhood. The bleached, cooked white tripe that you see commonly in pho and menudo, is not the same and does not hold the same benefits as green tripe because of the cooking process it undergoes. Raw green tripe contains probiotics and digestive enzymes. Raw green tripe will also have some partially digested vegetation in it, that oozes gastric juices.
Probiotics fend off bad bacteria by producing short-chain fatty acids that “inhibit the growth and activity of harmful bacteria.” The probiotics also take away real estate from bad bacteria, and helps keep the gut healthy. It’s said that green tripe can also help dogs with allergies. This makes sense since most probiotics that you purchase as a supplement aren’t as fresh and may not contain as many live strains as fresh, raw tripe. Although kibble diets and other commercial diets often have probiotics added onto the the food before processing and high heat kills the beneficial strains, or they eventually die because the bags sit on a shelf for a long time before being purchased and fed.
Tripe is full of digestive enzymes because the enzymes the ruminant animal uses to digest vegetation can help your dog as well. Raw feeders who include vegetation into their dogs diet can help boost and aid in digestion by adding in green tripe.
The Gripe about Tripe
A lot of pet parents and raw feeders hold back from feeding tripe because of the mess and the smell. However, it’s a great high value training treat, and is really great for dogs who are picky about their food. Remember, what’s stinky to us isn’t “stinky” to them. That smell and those juices are incredibly palatable and even the pickiest of dogs will enjoy tripe! If you can’t get past the smell, we actually have air-dried green tripe that is not as messy or smelly as raw green tripe that you can use as a topper! An article on The Raw Feeding Community addresses the benefits of green tripe and whether or not it is “green gold,” I think it is still a great addition to your dog’s diet, and the important thing is it doesn’t hurt to add in green tripe, and your dog will still get some sort of benefit, even if it’s just the pure pleasure of eating :)