The Straight Dope on Flea and Tick Treatments

Paco Approves of Natural Flea and Tick Treatments

All Life’s Pure Balance products are Paco Approved.

When it comes to flea and tick prevention for your pet, your options seem endless. You can find treatments at the vet, pet supply store, Target, the grocery store, and virtually any other store selling pet supplies.

But just because flea and tick treatments are readily available does not mean they’re safe for your pet—or for you. Flea and tick treatments are evaluated by the EPA, not the FDA, and have only been tested for safety since 1996. Treatments do not need to undergo field tests to be sold in the United States.

What’s in Flea and Tick Prevention Treatments?

Flea and tick treatments are insecticides that kill fleas and ticks. Each name-brand treatment has a different active ingredient. Some spot-on treatments, which are applied along the spine of your pet, contain pyrethroids. They are responsible for more than half of all major reactions to pesticides in pets and cannot be used on cats. These reactions may result in seizures, heart attacks, and brain damage.

Other spot-on treatments contain fipronil, a synthetic chemical that causes paralysis in fleas and ticks, or selamectin, which blocks the nerve signals of fleas and ticks. Imidacloprid is not effective against ticks, but is found in some treatments for fleas.

Tips for Applying Flea and Tick Treatments

Though generally thought to be safe when used as directed, these powerful chemicals can be harmful to you and your pets if misapplied. Read all of the instructions in the treatments and strictly follow them. Never use a dog treatment on a cat, or a cat treatment on a dog. Certain chemicals that are safe for dogs may be harmful to cats, and vice versa.

Know your pet’s weight and choose a product that is suitable for him or her. Don’t split the dose for a large dog in half for two small dogs. Never use the treatments on pregnant or elderly animals.

After applying the treatment, watch your pet for signs of poisoning, including dilated pupils, vomiting, tremors, salivating, shivering, hiding, and skin irritation.

Consider Natural Flea and Tick Treatments

Of course, the easiest way to avoid harm from these products is to purchase all-natural treatments instead. Linalool and d-limonene are derived from citrus fruits and can disrupt the nervous systems of insects. Shampoos containing d-limonene, oatmeal, and essential oils like peppermint, cedar, and cloves gently and effectively wash away fleas and ticks. They also leave your pet smelling and feeling clean and fresh.

Read up on flea and tick treatments before you apply one to your pet. For more information on safe and effective flea and tick treatments, contact me today!

Here’s to breathing easy and living life to the fullest!

Gene Wood, Life’s Pure Balance

Do you suffer from allergies & asthma?

Asthma allergies graph

75% of Americans live with someone who suffers from respiratory illnesses. Do you suffer from allergies and asthma?

Respiratory illnesses (allergies and asthma) affect more Americans than any other disease. Yet, for the most part, we go about our daily lives breathing 5 to 10 times a minute without one thought about what’s in the air we breathe.

To help you understand the magnitude of this reality, we should clarify that the average person—when at rest—breathes about 340 cubic feet of air each and every day, which is equal to 2,543 gallons of air . . . daily! Just take a moment to consider that most of us struggle to drink 8 measly glasses of water a day, while in breathing (without even thinking about it) we are inhaling and exhaling almost 41,000 8-oz. glasses in that same 24-hour period. Over a year’s time, you will “consume” 142,000 cubic feet of air. Amazingly, this is equivalent to all of the air contained in 9 typical Minnesota homes. So . . . do you think you ought to be concerned about what’s in all that air?

Do you know?

Health complications from air pollution include asthma, coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, lung inflammation and susceptibility to infections. In fact, 75% of Americans live with at least one person who suffers from asthma, allergies or other respiratory illness. That’s 3 from your next foursome on the golf course . . . or about 9 of the 11 hometown players on the field at the next high school football game.

Outside air pollution can cause a variety of environmental effects such as acid rain, haze, ozone depletion and forest damage. When it comes to a healthy outdoor environment, how’s the air quality in your city? Do you even know how to find out?

The American Lung Association offers some useful information on the “State of the Air.” Click on this link to find more information on air quality in your neighborhood. This website also provides detailed information on 2 critical elements of air quality: ozone pollution and particle pollution. Click on each article in the link above; you’ll find them in the list at the top left of the home page.

Ozone Pollution

Read the whole the article yourself for all the details, but consider this compelling statement in the meantime: “The most widespread pollutant in the U.S. is also one of the most dangerous. Hundreds of research studies have confirmed that ozone harms people at levels currently found in the United States. In the last few years, we’ve learned that it can also be deadly.” I will be delving into this area in more detail in future posts.

Particle Pollution

Again, the American Lung Association has a lot to say when it comes to particulate matter in the air. According to their website, it can increase the risk of heart disease, lung cancer and asthma attacks and can interfere with the growth and work of the lungs.” This is another subject I’ll cover in greater detail in future posts.

Once you began to understand the nature of this topic, awareness and knowledge will give you the ability to take action. Air quality is reported in nearly every city in the US. If you live in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, follow this link to AIRNow for daily information. We recommend that you check the data reported and monitor it—for your own health, and for that of your family and pets. It’s important to realize that animals are seven to ten times more sensitive than humans. Now you know the rest of the story and why Paco has so much interest in what Life’s Pure Balance is doing.

Hoping you’re breathing easy and living life to the fullest,

Gene Wood, Life’s Pure Balance


American Lung Association. (2013) Ozone Pollution. Retrieved from

American Lung Association. (2013) Particle Pollution. Retrieved from


Diabetes Dogs & Health

A few weeks ago Paco, CBO of Life’s Pure Balance, was diagnosed with diabetes. He had been sick for nearly 2 weeks, drinking volumes of water, not eating and not moving around like he would normally do. I speculated what was wrong, talked to friends, held him a lot and worried. After all he is my child (and boss) now that my kids are out on their own.

Finally, I gave in and took him to the vet. I do what most people do about their own health … avoid going to the Dr. because of the cost!

He underwent a broad screening of blood and urine tests designed to highlight what might be wrong. The good news … his health issue was clear  .. his blood sucrose level was at 746 when it should be around 100 to 200 … not good at all!

This is what we now know … diabetes strikes 1 in 500 dogs. (similiar to people?) The condition is treatable, and need not shorten the animal’s life span or interfere with quality of life. If left untreated, the condition can lead to cataracts, increasing weakness in the legs (neuropathy), malnutrition, dehydration, and death. Diabetes mainly affects middle-aged and older dogs, but there are also juvenile cases. The typical canine diabetes patient is middle-aged, female, and overweight at diagnosis.

The number of dogs diagnosed with diabetes has increased three-fold in thirty years. Looking back on survival rates from almost the same time period, only 50% survived the first 60 days after diagnosis and went on to be successfully treated at home. Currently, diabetic dogs receiving treatment have the same expected lifespan as non-diabetic dogs of the same age and gender.

For Paco this most likely started when he was injured in a “close call” car accident. After the accident he spent a year under the care of an animal chiropractor who helped to correct his injuries. In the process he gained weight. Sound familiar ?

I often talk about our “human” bodies being a finely tuned machine and that our pets are guardians of our health. The point being our health is dictated by the little things that we so often ignore … in Paco’s case it caught up with him. Now he is taking insulin, he has lost weight and is capable of being more active. He is back on the road to good health … and the best part of this all … his smile has returned.

Washing your fruits & veggies, WHY & HOW!

Toxic chemicals are on your Produce!

Thanks to improvements in farming, shipping and distribution, shoppers today enjoy a wider selection of fresh produce than ever before. However, pesticide residue on some fruits and vegetables can be a cause for concern. In fact, fruits and vegetables on the ‘highest levels’ list contain 47 to 67 pesticides per serving.

 Most countries monitor residual levels of pesticides in produce, and establish legal limits for the safety of consumers. In some cases, however, these residual levels may be toxic for children, pregnant women and even pets. The US FDA maintains that consuming pesticides in low amounts is harmless, but some studies show an association between pesticides and health problems such as cancer, attention-deficit (hyperactivity) disorder and nervous system disorders and say exposure could weaken immune systems.

 A study by Consumers Union, the publishers of Consumer Reports magazine, examines and rates the residual levels of pesticides on many common fruits and vegetables. A report by the Environmental Working Group, using data from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, has found that much of the health risks associated with pesticides are concentrated in a relatively small number of fruits and vegetables.

The good news … Wash all of your fruits and vegetables … !!! When asked, most consumers tell me I wash with water.  That isn’t good enough! The simple answer is you must use a detergent based cleaner to cut the chemicals, effectively removing them from the surface of your food. While there are many products on the market I advocate using a natural based dish washing solution. The difference will astound you. Complex issues, simple solutions!

To see how a professional cook and shopper washes her produce watch this short video by Stacy Klone of Kitchen Werks. Good advice from a proven source!

p.s. If you get frustrated reading labels or don’t know where to find high quality, low cost natural based cleaning products, call Gene @ 651.261.0251 to talk about what Paco uses and approves.

Can a Canary be considered a sentinel for humans?

Well into the 20th century coal miners used canaries to monitor levels of Carbon monoxide gas in the mine. Their measurement was very simple … when the canary fell off it’s perch, the miners had a very short time to evacuate the mine. When the miners suspected their might be major methane gas issues, they posted a guard to literally watch the canary. The good news was it worked for the miners … not so much for the canaries!

Researching the subject of animals as sentinels gives one a new perspective on the importance of our animal kingdom.

Animal sentinels, or sentinel species, are animals used to detect risks to humans by providing advanced warning of a danger. The terms primarily apply in the context of ecological hazards rather than those from other sources. Some animals can act as sentinels because they may be more susceptible, or have greater exposure to a particular hazard than humans in the same environment. People have long observed animals for signs of impending hazards or evidence of environmental threats. Plants, and other living organisms have also been used for these purposes.

Some historical examples:

There are countless examples of environmental effects on animals that later manifested in humans. The classic example of animal sentinels is the “canary in the coal mine“.

In Minamata Bay, Japancats developed “dancing cat fever” before humans were affected, as a result of eating mercury contaminated fish. Dogs were recognized as early as 1939 to be more susceptible to tonsil cancer if they were kept in crowded urban environments. Similar studies did the same for animals exposed to tobacco smoke.

Some characteristics of the animals

Animal sentinels must have measurable responses to the hazard in question, whether that is due to the animal’s death, disappearance, or some other aspect.

For example, honey bees are susceptible to air pollution. Similarly both bats and swallows have been used to monitor pesticide contamination due to their diet of insects that may have been affected by the chemicals. By the same token, aquatic animals, or their direct predators, are used as sentinel species to monitor water pollution.

Some species may show effects of a contaminant before humans due to their size, their reproductive rate, or their increased exposure to the contaminant.

Today it is a common belief that cancers in dogs and cats have been linked to household exposures to pesticidescigarette smoke, toxic cleaning agents and other carcinogens. Some speculate that animals could provide early warning of a terrorist attack using biological or chemical agents.

From a futuristic perspective there has been a call for linkage of human and veterinary medicine in a “One Health” approach that recognizes disease occurring in the animal kingdom may indicate human health risk. This approach would involve greater information sharing between human health, veterinary clinicians and public health professionals.

So, if you have made it to the end of this article … You now know why I like talking about Animals being guardians for our health.