Most raw feeders will claim that green tripe is a natural whole food source of a probiotic. But let’s look a little more closely.
What Is Green Tripe?
Tripe comes from the first three champers of a ruminant’s stomach. Ruminating mammals include goats, sheep, giraffes, bison, moose, elk, yaks water buffalo, deer, camels, alpacas, lamb, and antelope.
Most of the green tripe we see for dogs comes from cows.
The white honeycomb tripe you see at your grocery store is the stomach lining that has been washed, cleaned, and boiled. We don’t feed these to our dogs. But you will see it in ethnic dishes.
The green tripe for dogs is unbleached. It still contains undigested grass (or whatever food the ruminant animal ate .. might be hay) as well as digestive and gastric juices.
These digestive juices are in the chambers of the ruminant animals – let’s just use the cow as an example because they don’t fully chew up the grass in their mouths.
Instead, this partially chewed grass becomes lumps of “cud” and then it passes through the three stomach chambers to be chewed again.
Carnivores In The Wild Eat The Stomach
It has been observed that carnivores in the wild will eat the stomach of their prey. It has been posited that this “helps the carnivore with digestion”.
And since this is happening within hours or days of the kill, it can be posited that the digestive enzymes in the intestine do indeed help the carnivore’s own digestion.
What Does Science Say?
The probiotic in green tripe is Lactic Acid Bacteria (specifically, Lactobacillus Acidophilus). We know this from a sample conducted at Woodson-Tenent Laboratories, Inc. in Gainesville, Georgia / (sample # G97-16346).
Now Lactobacillus Acidophilus is actually good for dogs. Countless studies show “significantly improved the nutritional status and faecal parameters of dogs.” or basically results in better poops in dogs.
Now Where is Lactobacillus Acidophilus Found In Food?
Lactobacillales or lactic acid bacteria (LAB) are nonsporulating, nonrespiring coccus-shaped bacteria found in decomposing plants and milk products.
This strain grows well in milk and foods made from milk. It’s also found in fermented plant food such as pickles and saurkraut
Due To Fermentation in the Ruminant’s Stomach – It’s Found There Too
Remember the grass the cow ate? It goes into the stomach chambers to be digested so, in essence, it goes through fermentation.
The strain found in green tripe is Lactic Acidophilus which helps break down carbohydrates and sugars such as lactose, into lactic acid.
The Problem is Lactobacillus Acidophilus Isn’t Shelf Stable
This particular organism has great commercial interest not only for dogs but for humans.
But it is difficult for culture manufacturers to maintain viability in a dried state. Therefore, many attempts have been made to encapsulate and condition the environment of these dried cultures so they can be used in a wider variety of shelf-stable processed food products. That’s why you find it in yogurt and buttermilk.
This culture remains active when it’s encapsulated and cold.
Lactobacillus Acidophilus Bacteria Diminishes When It’s Exposed To Air
Unfortunately, the shelf life of this bacteria diminishes when it’s exposed to air.
So… the green tripe you are buying for your dog most likely has no more beneficial bacteria left for the following reasons:
The Digestive Bacteria In Green Tripe Are Obligate Anaerobes
Obligate anaerobes are killed off by oxygen.
…what that means is that any benefits to beneficial green tripe die off as soon as it’s exposed to oxygen.
The only time there would be an exception is if you lived on a farm or had access to fresh green tripe. Some raw feeders actually have this connection and in this case, then yes, the lactic acidophilus is still alive.
But for the rest of us city urban-suburban people, we’re far from a farm.
Think about what the green tripe for us city dwellers look like:
- The cow is harvested and processed in a slaughterhouse.
- The green tripe is further cut up and chopped (all while exposed to air) and the majority of these obligate anaerobes die off in the presence of oxygen.
- If some of these bacteria survive, it then has to undergo the freezing process.
- Freezing this bacteria also showed that it negatively affects the shelf life. In a 17-week study, the bacterial counts of lactic acidophilus had decreased.
And if there are any that don’t get killed off, they aid in the digestion of what cows eat.
Cows eat a mixture of food which includes grass silage, hay, alfalfa hay, grains, and corn.
And last I checked, our dogs are not eating any of the same food that cows eat so even if the enzymes were alive, there’s nothing for the bacteria in green tripe to digest when it’s fed to our dogs.
If there is any beneficial bacteria left I would posit that it’s going to be less than what you would find in fermented plant food (sauerkraut and pickles) and dairy (yogurt or kefir).
Lactobacillus Acidophilus Doesn’t Survive Heat
If you buy dehydrated, air-dried or canned green tripe it’s been cooked. So if you think there is any beneficial bacteria left in that – you might be sadly disappointed.
Here’s the other hard truth about dog food. It’s butchering waste from human food.
It’s the portion of the animals that cannot be sold as meat for human consumption.
This used to go out for rendering but with the trend to feed dogs something other than kibble increasing, dog food companies now work with slaughtering houses or distributors to buy up this “butchering waste” or “by-products”.
While this is a sustainable approach to what we do with leftover meat we don’t eat, you have to take it with a grain of salt. Most of these parts have not been studied for their nutritional value.
Green tripe has never been studied for its probiotic and digestive enzymes.
Why Feed Green Tripe Then?
Green tripe was embraced by early raw feeders due to its calcium to phosphorus ratio of 1 to 1. It was also highly affordable and butchers were happy to be able to sell it to dog owners.
So if you’re looking for ways to feed an ingredient that has balanced calcium to phosphorus ratio, then green tripe is an option for you (and your dog).
It may be hypothesized that the undigested grass in green tripe might act like a prebiotic but we don’t have studies that prove that.
Personal Recommendation: Skip Green Tripe For Yeasty and Allergy Dogs
Green tripe is aged and has a small number of bacteria and higher histamine and can cause yeasty or allergy dogs to itch more.
I would not feed green tripe to any dogs that have allergies, yeast, IBD, IBS, EPI, pancreatitis, liver or kidney failure.
So Why Feed Green Tripe? As A High-Value Treat That Smells
Green tripe is incredibly stinky. When they are dried into treats, they are highly appealing to dogs.
This is because dogs eat with their noses first.
And if there’s any reason to feed green tripe, this might be the sole reason but I would not feed it to any dogs that have yeast or allergies.
Given the choice, I prefer to feed green tripe when it’s freeze-dried.
Why you ask?
It’s because freeze-drying is not dried in the unsafe zone. Food dried between 40 and 140 degrees is the zone where bacteria can double every 20 minutes.
Note: Some links in this article are affiliate links (Amazon Associates or other programs I participate in). At no charge to you, as an affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Two brands you can find on Amazon are:
What About Adding Green Tripe To Raw Meals?
If you are feeding green tripe for what you think are probiotic or digestive enzymes then I’d look towards a supplement or fermented food instead.
If you are feeding green tripe as an additional protein source then it’s fine as long as you dog doesn’t get a belly ache from it.
It’s also a source for manganese and a great addition to any meal when you have a picky dog.
Green tripe has no probiotics or enzymes left in them because they died off when they were exposed to air.
It’s still a great ingredient to add to your dog’s meals due to its calcium to phosphorus ratio of one to one.
And they are fantastic stinky high-value treats to give your dog.