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This post was originally published in 2015. It has been updated with new information as I've learned more as a raw feeder.
I've been writing a lot about green beef tripe lately because I'm learning a lot about this protein. Did you know that there are dog owners who feed a diet that is 100% green tripe? I asked if this was a balanced diet in a couple of raw groups – one group deleted my question and warned me to read their group rules before posting again (yikes!) and in another group, people felt that it's NOT a complete diet.
But are they wrong?
Benefits of Green Tripe
I feed our dogs green tripe because I was told that it supports:
- skin and coat health; creating a shiny coat and healthy skin
- the immune system, reducing allergy symptoms and skin rashes
- cleaner teeth (as dogs chew it, it naturally flosses and cleans their teeth)
- a healthy digestive system with natural digestive enzymes and probiotics
- the overall health of a dog
- the appetite of a picky eater or a sick dog
With this list of benefits, if it's true that green tripe is also a balanced diet on its own, imagine how much time and money we'd save. No more worrying about calculating macros and micronutrients. No more worrying about sourcing because with farms nearby, I can get green tripe for a steal.
But is green tripe a balanced diet? And, come to think of it, are the benefits of green tripe accurate? I have a dog with digestive issues and green tripe gives him diarrhea. So much for all of the natural enzymes, eh? But ‘gut health' isn't the only reason to feed green tripe.
What Makes a Raw Diet Balanced?
Of course, this is my opinion based on what I'm feeding our four dogs.
Variety of Proteins: For our dogs, I think having a range of proteins is important. Not only does it keep them from getting bored, but each protein also offers a different balance of nutrients.
Vitamins and Minerals: Green tripe provides the calcium, amino acids, and essential fatty acids our dogs need, but what about other vitamins and minerals? Each of our dogs has different needs, and I've customized their diets accordingly while making sure that each dog is getting the nutrients needed for a balanced raw diet.
Vegetables: I think vegetables have a place in my dogs' diet. I think vegetables provide fiber, antioxidants, and nutrients that are beneficial to our dogs' diet. Our dogs eat fermented vegetables, pureed vegetables, and I also give them fruit (berries and apples) as treats.
Is Green Tripe a Balanced Diet?
Although green tripe can be fed daily (as muscle meat), I'm not convinced that green tripe alone is a balanced diet for my dogs. I do believe that it should be a part of our dogs' diet.
Calcium:Phosphorus Ratio: I read that this should be 1:1 (or 50% of each) in a dog's diet. Green tripe is 1:1 and that alone makes me sold on the benefits of green tripe because I worry about making sure our dogs get enough calcium in their meals.
- Calcium is necessary for bone structure and controls muscle and nerve functions.
- Phosphorus helps form bones and teeth, helps the body process carbs and fat, and helps muscles, kidneys, and the heart works well.
PH is on the Acidic Side: this will help promote a healthy digestive system and allow a dog to better utilize the nutrients s/he gets from the food. This is important for Rodrigo, who has digestive issues. I know when he's not taking in what he needs from his food when (1) his poop is white and soft, and it's not due to too much calcium, and (2) when he's sniffing around his poop because he wants to get the digestive enzymes that are in there. Gross, but it happens.
Amino Acids: there are high levels of amino acids (70%) in green tripe that are not available in muscle meat, including:
- Leucine: Promotes muscle recovery and repair after activity
- Proline: Used for cartilage production and wound healing.
- Aspartic Acid: Stamina booster that assists in antibody production.
Choline: this is a nutrient that is essential for promoting a healthy nervous system and green tripe has a lot of it.
Essential Fatty Acids: I read that green tripe contains the correct proportion of essential fatty acids. No need to worry about balancing Omega 3s and Omega 6s.
Manganese: a nutrient often found in the pelt and feathers, it can be challenging to make sure that it's covered in our dogs' diet. I started adding rabbit feat and ears (due to the fur) to make sure my dogs are covered and then someone asked the question, “is the manganese bioavailable?” Hell, I don't know. But guess what? Raw green tripe is a source of manganese.
Where Can We Buy Green Tripe?
Although I don't believe green tripe is a balanced meal on its own, I do think that it's an important part of our dog's diet, so it's important that I always have it on hand. Here are a few sources I recommend:
What if a Dog Can't Eat Green Tripe?
My girls eat a meal of green tripe at least once or twice a week. I used to feed green tripe to all of my dogs this way until I noticed that it gave my boys diarrhea. This isn't unheard of; for some dogs, green tripe is too rich and does cause loose stool or diarrhea.
So what do I do?
I began experimenting with how much I was feeding my dogs and found that I could add a 1/4 cup to Rodrigo and Scout's meals without causing loose stool. I can also mix a small amount (usually one pound per 8-quart bowl) of green tripe when mixing up larger batches of raw.