Why all the hype on Tripe?

When I first arrived in Paris as a student some 25 years ago, early wisdom taught me to carefully regard restaurant menus for such horrendous French culinary “delicacies” as shortbreads and tripe.

Sneaky bastards.

In the years since, I’ve continued to avoid the likes of “off cuts” of meats and various internal organs of animals when I dine at fancy places that like to slip that shit in on you┬áimpress with kitchen creativity. But when I began reading about feeding a raw diet to my dogs, tripe kept popping up over and over.

Feed tripe. Green tripe. Raw green tripe. Tripe tripe tripe. Feed tripe.

You get the idea.

Do y’all know what it is?!

Cow stomach.


I have been content to draw the line at chicken livers, especially after having dealt with that atrocious slippery nasty cow liver back in the Fall, but then I was perusing the Whole Dog Market the other day and stumbled upon Evanger’s Gently Dried Beef Tripe.

(Shopper’s note: It’s important to look down when shopping because often some really super stuff is tucked away below eye level. They tend to stock the popular stuff where lazy less discerning shoppers look. I tend to buy not-so-popular items (like tripe) and have been known to get on the floor in a store to dig out what I want. There’s your life goal for the day. Now back to the story).

Why all the hype? Tripe is practically a superfood for dogs. Not the bleached out white tripe that you may find yourself attracted to because it looks clean. We’re talking the green kind. Raw. Fresh out of the deceased beast.

It is loaded with digestive enzymes. If you’ve been supplementing with a powdered digestive enzyme, as I have been, wouldn’t it be better to feed something that naturally contains all those enzymes? Digestive enzymes live in the stomach, and when the animal dies, there they lie. And gently drying the organ so that it’s easier to handle and manage doesn’t destroy them like cooking or bleaching do. (obvi.)

Why are digestive enzymes important? They aid in digestion. Duh. But why is THAT important? The body has to work hard (read: expend energy) to digest and produce its own enzymes to absorb nutrition from the food you feed it. If it has some help in that venture, the energy normally expended in digestion can be used in an area that may need attention (read: immune support).

Green tripe is also chock full of probiotics. A healthy gut is critical to a healthy animal (human, canine, feline, or other). #truth. And higher levels of “good” bacteria in the belly can beat out the bad bacteria that may be present and causing an imbalance. According to this article in Dogs Naturally Magazine (great article worth reading), almost anything from diarrhea to constipation, to irritable bowel syndrome, to yeast infections to pollen allergies can be improved by feeding your dog (or cat) raw green tripe because of the overall assistance to digestion and population of healthy gut microflora.

Help the body help itself, yo.

It may be hard to find in its freshest form, and you may have to have an iron stomach of your own to take it on that way. But for a less messy option, consider Evanger’s. I’m glad I looked down to the bottom shelf the other day and found it. My dogs LOVE it as a snack after dinner. It breaks pretty easily into smaller bits. Even the cat loves it, and he’s picky as hell.

pugs & kisses!

What the Duck?

No, not talking about Oregon’s football team that broke my Crimson heart.

This post is brief. It’s Saturday. Go buy these treats:

Orijin Free Run Duck Treats
Truman & Pearl are coo-coo for these treats. Like nothing I’ve ever seen.

Dr. Natalie had them in her office and offered one to Truman & Pearl. Pearl is not a good judge of what is awesome because she loves all things food. Truman, however, is much more laid back and slow to react to yummies. He perked up like I’ve never seen and asked her for more. She kindly obliged, and I went straight to buy some when we left her office.

These are a luxury item for high reward that we will now keep on hand, along with our favorite CahaBones, when we don’t have time to make our own Pumpkin Poppers.

They have several flavors, but we’re sticking with the duck for now.

pugs & kisses,

Our visit with Dr. Natalie Blackmon

There is a holistic vet in Birmingham.

Yep. It’s true. In this bass-ackward, close-minded, stereo-typically opposite-of-innovative state, we’ve got an Auburn University-educated holistic veterinarian.


I started down this road some 4 months ago, and was feeling very ‘out there’ on my own trying to get a handle on the proper way to feed a raw diet to my dogs.

I have relied heavily on my textbook, The Encyclopedia of Natural Pet Care, which has been a tremendous resource, but sometimes you need to talk through it a bit.

I tried to reach out to any of the veterinarians at the clinic I use to get some additional guidance on doing it the right way. They didn’t return my calls. #sads.

My good friends at Just Happy Hounds-Midtown tried to connect me to someone who is a nutrition manager at one of the big box pet stores, and after a few emails and unreturned phone calls, I decided he didn’t really want to talk to me either, and I might be barking up the wrong tree anyway. #fail.

Finally, through Melissa Campbell, the maker of the most delightful grain-free, raw, dehydrated treats (www.cahabones.com), we connected with Dr. Natalie Lenoir Blackmon at the Well Being Animal Medicine Society.

Dr. Natalie is about to change our lives. We were SO excited to meet her and talk with her about this Raw Food experiment, what I’ve done, how I’ve done it, and what I’ve observed. Here’s some of what I learned:

  • I am over-feeding. With a raw diet, they don’t need to eat as much because the nutritional needs are more fully met. I have been feeding 6-8oz twice a day. For their body weights (25lbs each), they really only need about half that. So 6oz total per day will suffice.
  • Pearl’s sweet tooth (her love of all manner of fruit) is likely due to the growth of candida in her system as a result of the massive amounts of antibiotics she was on throughout the summer while we were battling the bladder infection. We’ve got to cut back on the fruit and get her system balanced.
  • My rotation of proteins is a good thing. I feed on a 3 or 4-day rotation of beef, chicken, and fish. Their bodies don’t have time get too used to one thing, which is important in controlling allergies.
  • Feeding protein and starch together slows the metabolic process, which I knew for myself, but failed to consider for my dogs. I should feed them about an hour or so apart.
  • Raw goat’s milk is a better source of milk protein than cow’s milk products. I have been feeding plain organic yogurt or kefir all this time. Raw goat’s milk is much easier for dogs to digest, and is better for them.
  • Bones are super important. As I had read in my book, bone marrow, with all of its nutrients, is essential for good health in dogs. She gave us an ‘atta girl’ for feeding raw chicken bones in addition to the raw meat.
  • Most of all, they look FANTASTIC! She called Truman & Pearl the Poster Dogs for a Raw Diet! She said most Pugs she sees have so many skin & coat issues, allergies, eye problems, etc., but my babies look amazing to her. ­čÖé

Dr. Natalie is our new bff. She gave us so many great suggestions, and she is excited about The HOL Dog!

If you’re in Alabama, she is at Well Being Animal Medicine Society, which is located at the Cahaba Beach Dog Park. She travels to Gadsden and Huntsville on weekends. Here’s a link to her Facebook page. You need to check her out.


pugs & kisses,

Well Being Animal Medicine Society Birmingham Alabama Holistic veterinarian
This is the backyard of Dr. Natalie’s office. Dang.
Well Being Animal Medicine Society, Birmingham, Alabama
Pearl was too busy for a photo. Truman was chill, as always, but I could tell he loved Dr. Natalie’s back yard.

Let them eat cake!

Words that sparked a revolution.

If the people of France had just realized that Marie Antoinette was really trying to calm down her hungry Pug, we’d have an entirely different history book.

I’ ve been toying with the idea of making birthday cakes for dogs, and how to do it so that they’re healthy. My friends at Just Happy Hounds (www.justhappyhounds.com) got excited about the notion, and sent me a recipe.

My birthday is around the corner, and my family very generously gave me a stand mixer to save my stirring arm (Pearl’s Pumpkin Poppers were wearing me out!). And after the Tide rolled over #1 Mississippi State last Saturday (Roll Tide), I decided to play with my new mixer and whip up a little Pupcake.

Sweet Potato-Almond Butter Birthday Cake for Dogs:

  • 1 egg (local farm raised, cage free eggs)
  • 1/4 cup fresh ground almond butter (organic)
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (organic)
  • 1/3 cup raw honey (local)
  • 1 cup baked sweet potato (local, organic)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350. Line your cake pan with parchment.

Mix your wet ingredients together, then sift the flour and baking powder in gradually until everything is incorporated. The batter for this is stiffer than a regular cake batter. Spoon it into your cake pan, and smooth it out with your spatula. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Let it cool on a rack before serving.

This cake is moist, dense, and delicious. It’s not pretty (and I need to work on that), but it really is quite good. It’s lightly sweet, not bland at all. Reminds me of the the gingerbread cookies at the bakery behind Raleigh Tavern in Colonial Williamsburg, except not as dry. (Clearly, I ate some myself!)

The “frosting” is plain yogurt, almond butter, and molasses. I’m thinking of using a bundt pan next time and making a drizzle instead of a frosting.

Pearl and Truman loved it! Check out my Instagram account (@SamInBham) for the video of Pearl’s fit for more.

pugs & kisses,

All natural sweet potato dog birthday cake
Dog birthday cake: she’s Ugly, but oh so tasty!