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Ask Dr. Pawz: Meat meal or tripe

Wednesday - 1/23/2013, 8:41am  ET

Katy_Nelson.jpg
Dr. Katy Nelson. (Courtesy Rich Kessler Designs)

Katy Nelson, special to wtop.com

Our first question today comes to us from Carina Wear:

We are getting a Labrador retriever in February and I have been researching dog food. Is Chicken/beef/turkey meal better than just Chicken/beef/turkey?

Dr. Pawz:

Congratulations on adding a new furry bundle of love to your life, Carina! This is a great question, and it is very important to do your research on foods, veterinarians, dog walkers, etc., prior to getting your new pup, so good job!

According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), chicken meal is the "dry rendered product from a combination of clean chicken flesh and skin with or without accompanying bone, derived from whole carcasses of chicken, exclusive of feathers, heads, feet and entrails."

A meal is an "ingredient which has been ground or otherwise reduced in particle size." Applying this to other protein sources, you'll see that meals are not evil as many companies try to lead us to believe in their sales pitches.

Actually, a meat meal is higher in protein than regular meat because the rendering process separates fat and removes water to create a concentrated protein source.

Ingredients are extremely important when searching for the right pet food, but just as important to consider is your pet's size at adulthood (toy breed, large breed, etc.), their lifestyle (active, very active, couch potato, etc.) and life stage (puppy, adult, senior). These three factors, along with any special issues or conditions that they may have, will allow you to pick the food that is just right for your pet.

My advice upon initially bringing your pup home is to leave your pet on the food they come to you with for at least a couple of weeks after coming to live with you. This allows them to get adjusted to life in their new home without adding any stress to his little system.

After he is settled in, then you can slowly start to switch his food during a period of 10 to 14 days. Abrupt switches can cause unnecessary stress to the GI tract, and may lead to diarrhea and vomiting.

Best of luck with your new love!


Question two is from David Connelly in Frederick, Md.:

I feed my dogs green tripe. I have purchased frozen patties of the tripe, which are eight frozen patties, 1/4 pound each, for $5.99 per eight. And I am told to feed one patty per day to each dog.

In the group of people who follow my dogs on Facebook and dog friends here, some speak of tripe as being a "brilliant," "wonderful product," "incredible," etc. Can you clear the air for me and give me some idea of what to expect (if you agree with this thought process) and if there is any harm which can come from feeding this product?

I understand that from those with whom I have spoken regarding this topic, it is an unknown "secret" type of thing. I think to feed them tripe on a regular basis, we would need about 365 pounds of it per year for the two dogs (.25 pounds, 2 times a day x 2 dogs x 365 days) (assuming you do not double the intake for the puppy) or about 30 pounds per month. Cost factor: about $89.95 per month for both dogs.

They suggest removing some kibble when adding the tripe to the diet, so maybe remove 1/4 cup kibble for 1/4 patty of tripe.

Best wishes to you and to your show. I have it on my DVR to record each week just in case we miss it. Diesel and Pixel both like it when you have dogs on as they both sit and watch it on the big screen.

Dr. Pawz:

Green tripe is the "highly palatable and easily digested stomach lining and stomach contents of cattle containing partially digested grasses and grains, digestive enzymes, gastric juices, amino acids, essential fatty acids (omega 3 and 6) and an exceptional balance of calcium to phosphorus," according to one of the companies that produces a canned formulation of this.

I've been asked this question before, as have many veterinarians out there, and unfortunately I cannot find any reason for the "magic" that is supposed to be contained within it.

Also, I cannot find any information regarding adequacy of the diet according to AAFCO (American Association of Feed Control Officials) guidelines or any information regarding feeding trials.

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