Photobucket Photobucket Therapy dogs spread happiness, love, and cheer to people who otherwise might be lonely, sad or slow to heal. This is the journey of Cayman, a longhair miniature dachshund and his journey and experiences visiting becoming a therapy dog.

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Green Tripe

While Googling what the exact nutritional benefits in the various organs meats I have been feeding Cayman and the other dogs, I recalled seeing tripe on the supermarket shelves and remembered hearing about how wonderful tripe was for dogs, like the miracle food, and as close to nature as you could get. So, interested in why the tripe on Publix's shelves was white in color whereas all the articles mentioned green tripe, I found lots of interesting articles on how this tripe, the white variety is actually NOT what I would want to purchase....

"Washed and bleached tripe have been treated or clean and hold significantly less nutritional value. Once the tripe is bleached or scalded, all helpful living enzymes are destroyed.Tripe is washed and bleached for the same reasons humans wash and peel potatoes- for appearance and bacterial safety reasons."

I did, however find a good one that explained exactly what green tripe is, and why its so great. Based on what I have read, I am convinced. I gotta try this stuff with Cayman! You can read that article at the end of this weblog. It's kinda long.

Since I will not be purchasing the white tripe from Publix, and don't know of any local butchers or other means of getting fresh green tripe, I will be purchasing a few cans of Solid Gold Green Cow Green Beef Tripe since I can buy it at Petco (hey, its where the pets go! That and I didn't see it on Petsmart's website) which is right up the road from me, or at Paws Claws and Tails, the pet boutique which is the closest place I can buy the Canidae dry dog food.

I have to laugh at all the reviews I have read about the stuff, they practically beg that it come with a warning label- HORRIFIC SMELL! My impression is if I though the beef kidneys were smelly, I am in for a real surprise when I get this stuff because it is claimed to be FOUL! Like that of fresh horse manure. But if its good for my dogs, I will gladly pinch my nose and dish it up. Hmm, I wonder what the rest of the household will think about the smell? LOL! Perhaps this special treat should be given on weekends and fed out on the patio!

"It smells horrible, and looks disgusting. So why do dogs go crazy for it?

Some people say that green tripe is 'the most perfect foods for dogs', and others say it 'the finest of natural foods'. In fact, the testimonials that people write about feeding green tripe almost seem unbelievable. According to the true believers, green tripe gives coats new luster and richer color, it cures flaky skin, makes teeth absolutely pearly white, improves stool quality and consistency, and dramatically increases dogs energy levels.

How can this be.. how can one food make such a profound difference in our dogs health and vitality? And of all things, tripe? Having lived in New Mexico, I personally have had some darn good posole, but it never exactly made me feel like doing backflips, and unfortunately didn't do much for my 'coat' (or what's left of it). So is this hype, or is there really some substance behind this green tripe jazz?

First of all, what exactly is green tripe? As unappetizing as it may sound, green tripe is the edible lining and content of a ruminant animal's (i.e. cow) stomach. To be more precise, it is the lining and content of the fourth chamber of the stomach. Green tripe is unbleached, and unwashed. Generally the stomach contents are sorted through to remove the larger pieces of undigested grass and hay, but that's about all the processing it receives. So, pretty much straight from the cow to you.

Obviously this is not the same stuff that we buy at the supermarket and dice up into our posole. Tripe for human consumption almost never comes from the fourth compartment of the stomach, but rather from the first three. Each compartment of the stomach has its own peculiar structure and texture that leads to a different variety of tripe.

'Blanket' tripe is derived from the first chamber, and is so called because of its characteristic 'pile' (like a shag carpet). This type of tripe is often accompanied by a layer of fat which is removed before cooking. From the second chamber of the stomach we get 'honeycomb' tripe. This variety is generally preferred by cooks because it retains its shape during cooking, and the textured surface holds the sauce it is cooked in. Finally, the third chamber produces the variety known as 'bible', 'book' or 'seam' tripe.

When tripe is harvested and prepared for humans, the contents of the stomach are removed and discarded, and the lining is washed thoroughly. At this point, the fresh clean tripe has a characteristic khaki color which most people find rather unappealing. Therefore the tissue is bleached to yield the snow-white product we find in our grocer's meat department. Tripe for human consumption should not be confused with the green stuff that bestows our companion animals with such 'miraculous' benefits. In fact, feeding your dog the white tripe from your supermarket meat case will probably not get you much more than an ear-to-ear grin.

To discover what is so special about green tripe, we should first look at how a cow's stomach works, which is quite different from the way our stomach, or our dog's stomach functions. The goal of any good digestive system is to decompose ingested food down to the component molecules which are then assimilated and distributed for the body's various uses. Our stomachs (and our dogs) work by enzymatically breaking down food. A variety of digestive enzymes are added to the food which chemically break it down into a molecular soup. In the intestines, the molecules of this soup are assimilated and delivered into the blood for distribution.

A cow's body does not synthesize the digestive enzymes necessary to digest the hay and various grasses that the cow eats. Therefore, the cow must rely on a different method of extracting all of the component molecules from its food. This method is microbial fermentation. In the stomach's first chamber (rumen) there are millions of microbes (bacteria and protozoa) living in a symbiotic (mutually beneficial) relationship with the cow. These microflora ferment the cellulose of the plant material, releasing large quantities of volatile fatty acids. The fatty acids are absorbed directly, and constitute the primary energy source of most ruminant animals.

The second chamber of the stomach (reticulum) is similar in function to the rumen. That is, it also serves as a large fermentation vat. The honeycombed structure of the reticulum is highly specialized and useful for separating large boluses of solid matter, and then returning this matter to the esophagus so that it may be regurgitated and rechewed (referred to as chewing the cud).

The function of the third chamber (omasum) is not well understood. The structure of this chamber contains many leaves or folds, and the finely ground and digested food particles are packed into these folds. Apparently, there is additional absorption of fatty acids not assimilated in the rumen and the reticulum, and considerable absorption of water and electrolytes as well.

The stomach's fourth chamber (abomasums) is glandular, and operates in a similar fashion to our own stomach. Here, digestive acids and enzymes are mixed with the feedstuffs to accomplish the digestion of proteins. These proteins are those converted from the plant material by the microorganisms, as well as a large number of the microorganisms themselves. The food is broken down into its component parts or molecules, and then passed on to the intestines for assimilation.

This fourth chamber is the source of green tripe. And, now that we know a little more about how the cow's stomach works, it sounds even more disgusting. However due to the fermented nature of the original feedstuff, the presence of a wide variety of microbial material, and the cow's natural secretions, this portion of the stomach is able to provide an extremely rich food high in natural enzymes, gastric juices, phytochemicals, B-complex vitamins, omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, and amino acids.

It has been speculated that the gastic juices and natural enzymes are at least in part responsible for cleaning the dog's teeth to produce the 'pearly whites' that advocates rave about. The fatty acids are of great benefit to the health of the skin and coat, and the B-complex vitamins and free-form (ready to use) amino acids would explain the energy and vitality that tripe feeders notice in their dogs. Additionally, the undigested microorganisms constitute what is commonly referred to as probiotics, useful for establishing and maintaining a healthy variety of friendly intestinal flora. And, the rich variety of phytochemicals may provide a wealth of benefits too vast to mention, and in fact not completely understood.

There is no doubt that there is great potential benefit in feeding green tripe. The scientific analyses and the anecdotal testimonials cannot be argued. However, be prepared. Feeding green tripe is not for sissies. This stuff smells horrible (I mean open the can outside horrible) and looks twice as bad. On the other hand, be careful about opening it near a hungry dog, because it will send them into a frenzy! In the wild, canids will bring down their prey and consume them starting with the innards. And even our well-mannered, domesticated friends instinctually know what is best for them."

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