Ask Dr. Pawz: Meat meal or tripe

Katy Nelson, special to

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.

It is noted to be “Good for dogs and cats of all breeds and life stages” without any justification for this statement being provided. I’m very skeptical of this as the nutritional analysis as it seems to be a very expensive high protein, high fat food with no proven benefits that I can find to justify the high caloric content.

A veterinary nutritionist at UC Davis says:

“I’m not aware of any published information showing the benefits reported by this manufacturer with feeding tripe to dogs (i.e. Improved appetite and digestion; cleaner teeth; dry and itchy skin problems improved or eliminated; coats with richer color; shine and lower susceptibility to fleas; calmer temperaments; decreased waste in feces).

Many of the other claims made (e.g. “Most allergic animals have reactions to corn, rice, soy, or wheat. These are very unnatural foods for dogs to digest which explains their rejection to them. Tripe has proven to be very acceptable with allergic dogs.”) appear to have no supporting literature and are not consistent with other published sources.”

So, unfortunately, David, I can’t endorse this food at this time as it doesn’t seem to have any real evidence supporting the claims. And from what I can find, it is not a nutritionally complete or balanced diet. That combined with the expense, I think you’d be better off just spending your money on a high quality food for your dogs and leaving the tripe behind.

Two exciting events to tell you about coming up in the D.C. area:

  • The Washington Humane Society’s 12th Annual Sugar and Champagne Affair, a dessert and champagne reception, honors our local crusaders against animal cruelty: Washington Humane Society’s Humane Law Enforcement Officers, Animal Care & Control Officers and Humane Educators. Held at the Reagan Building on Thursday, Jan. 31, this celebration of all things sweet, showcases the D.C. area’s most talented pastry chefs. Enjoy delectable confections complemented by some of the world’s finest sparkling wines. The VIP Chefs’ Tasting Room presents an exclusive savory gathering prepared by the finest chefs of the national capital region.
  • PACT for Animals is hosting Punish the Deed, Not the Breed at the Baltimore Law School Feb. 10. This event focuses on breed specific legislation, and uses the 2011 Maryland case of Tracey v. Solesky as an example. Speakers from around the country will convene to discuss ways of protecting the public from vicious dogs without discriminating against one specific breed. Anyone in real estate, law, animal rescue or just anyone who loves or has ever loved a dog, should attend to learn how the public can make a difference. An afternoon screening of “Beyond the Myth” will complete the day and truly help to drive home the inefficiency of breed specific laws.

Join Dr. Katy at both of these events, and tune in to “The Pet Show with Dr. Katy” at 11 a.m. every Saturday on News Channel 8. We’ll be back next week right here on WTOP Living with a timely pet topic. Want to suggest a topic or have your question answered? Email her at

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