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

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.

Trained dogs find Ash Borer beetle

Emerald ash borers are metallic-green beetles about a half-inch long and are native to eastern Asia. They were first discovered in the United States in Michiganin 2002 and are now confirmed in at least 13 other states, including Wisconsin. Emerald ash borers first showed up in St. Paul in 2009, then in other parts of Ramsey County and Hennepin, Winona and Houston counties.

Since the beetles’ discovery in the state, officials have tried a variety of methods to detect them and stop their spread. “We weren’t even sure if dogs could pick up on the scent of the ash borer or the ash wood, but they did,” she said. “We’re excited it worked.”

The beetle larvae kill trees by tunneling under the bark, disrupting the trees’ food supply. They are known to travel to new areas via firewood, nursery stock and other woody materials.

A team of dogs have been training in Minnesotato to detect this invasive beetle. The dogs were trained much like law enforcement drug-sniffing dogs, but with the focus on finding emerald ash borers and their larvae, which threaten the nearly 1 billion ash trees in Minnesota. The dog training program was a pilot program and has proven effective, Erickson said. Four dogs were trained — two Labradors, a German shepherd and a Belgian Malinois.

“With emerald ash borer, the only way you can find it is by visually finding the signs of it on the tree or in the wood,” Erickson said. “Those signs sometimes don’t appear right away, so sometimes you don’t realize there’s a problem until it’s too late. And with the dogs, because they can smell it, they can find an infestation right away. That’s the kind of efficiency that makes it well worth bringing the dogs in.”

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. 

Even our guardians need to rest …


An older, tired-looking dog wandered into my yard. I could tell from his collar and well-fed belly that he had a home and was well taken care of. He calmly came over to me, I gave him a few pats on his head; he then followed me into my house, slowly walked down the hall, curled up in the corner and fell asleep.

An hour later, he went to the door, and I let him out …

The next day he was back, greeted me in the yard, walked inside and resumed his spot in the hall again and slept for about an hour. This continued off and on for several weeks.

Curious I pinned a note to his collar: “I would like to find out who the owner of this wonderful sweet dog is and ask if you are aware that almost every afternoon your dog comes to my house for a nap.”

The next day he arrived for his nap, with a different note pinned to his collar: “He lives in a home with 6 children, 2 under the age of 3. He’s trying to catch up on his sleep … Can I come with him tomorrow?

This story 1st appeared in an email circulated wide and far .. I think it is so appropriate to be posted again as school is now in session … just a gentle reminder that it is most likely our pets get tired too!