READERS offered some old, new, usual and not so usual suggestions to our recent request for ways to eliminate fleas on dogs and cats.
Carole and John Micklos of Essex own a 100-pound female Doberman pinscher named Mandy, who is flea-free. The couple uses a combination of different sprays to eliminate fleas in the house, outside and on the dog. To save on the cost of an exterminator, John suggests buying a large sprayer ''for about $7'' and attacking the outside and inside with a good commercial flea spray. ''We've had great success on Mandy with Hartz Blockade,'' he says.
Pets on Wheels coordinator Elaine Farrant has two black cats and resists using toxic remedies. She writes, ''I vacuum the house at least twice a week and I diligently comb my cats daily beginning around the eyes, ears and neck and working down the back to the hind quarters. I drop the critters which my flea comb removes into a jar of soapy water to drown,'' she says.
Brent Rickman from Lutherville vacuums daily and sets up a flea trap at night.
''Fleas are attracted to lights and our trap is a dish of soapy water with a gooseneck lamp turned on a few inches over the water," he says. "Last night we caught 15 to 20 fleas.''
Garlic powder in her pet's food has worked for Mrs. Edward Armanas of Ellicott City. ''I endangered my pets with all kinds of chemicals, sprays and bombs designed to kill fleas," she says, "until I began sprinkling garlic powder over his food.''
Alma Homrighausen from Baltimore had several helpful hints. She, too, has flea traps -- lights over an adhesive surface which the fleas stick to. An advocate of natural products, Homrighausen uses cedar mulch and plants marigolds outside. Both are natural insect repellents.
Inside, she uses a product she discovered at a vendor's table at a Chesapeake Cat Show. Called Orange Magic, ''it is a citrus solution which is a testimonial for safe flea control. I dilute just one ounce to a gallon of water and scrub the floors and appliances and woodwork with it. I spray it lightly on everything, my curtains, furniture and carpets,'' she says. The product is not put on the cats but Homrighausen keeps a bowl of it near her flea combs to kill the fleas she combs off.
Orange Magic is available from Jerry Fox, who says it is an all-natural citrus extract solvent and degreaser. He says it's strong enough for industrial use but has no hazardous ingredients. For details call Fox at 788-7990 or (800) 543-4379.
Hilda and Ray Foreman of Dundalk eliminated the flea problem on their long-haired terrier with a product called Petcor, from Tanners' Exterminating Service in Dundalk. Bud Tanner at the company says Petcor ''has been a good and popular flea spray which is safe for kittens and puppies as well.''
The Sussex spaniel Bandit, who belongs to S.J. Mickens, is kept free of fleas with daily vacuuming and a good flea soap.
Velma Bosley of Randallstown uses garlic powder, about a teaspoon in the food.
Hazel Ayus cleans the cat box every day and lightly sprays her pets' sleeping area with a disinfectant. ''We haven't had fleas in 15 years,'' she wrote.
Veterinarian Ed Jendrek, who owns the Carney Animal Hospital on Harford Road, suggests vacuuming and flea sprays for the house and pet. ''Garlic powder and brewers yeast in the pet's food works in 50 percent of cases," he says.
''Bathe the animal once each week, say every weekend, during flea season and then in the middle of the week, use a good flea spray on it," he advises. "This is a routine which generally works. If the flea infestation gets out of hand inside, an exterminator is necessary,'' he says.
Something that has worked for this pet writer is two teaspoons of Avon's Skin So Soft with two teaspoons of Listerine in about three cups of water, either sprayed on the pet or wiped on daily.
Whatever weapons you chose to fight fleas, be sure to check your products, read your labels and talk to your veterinarian.