Most holistic veterinary practitioners recommend switching any itchy dog to a complete and balanced home-prepared diet containing real foods.This will decrease the dog’s exposure to unnecessary or complex chemicals and give his body the opportunity to utilize the higher-quality nutrients present in fresh foods. Whether the diet is cooked or raw, the increased nutrient quality and availability of fresh whole foods will improve the health of any dog who currently receives even the best dry or canned foods.

Feeding fresh, unprocessed, organic foods provides more of the building blocks for a healthy immune system, says Dr. Lisa Pesch, a holistic veterinarian in Sebastopol CA. Dogs who have allergies are more likely to be deficient in trace proteins and sugars (proteoglycans) that are used by the immune systems. Deficiencies in these nutrients will increase allergic response.One of the most common mistakes that people make when feeding a home-cooked diet is the failure to add calcium. You must add calcium when you feed a diet that does not include bones.

Adult dogs need around 800 to 1,000 mg of calcium per pound of food fed. They also require the calcium to be supplied in a proper proportion to phosphorus.

The ideal calcium: phosphorus ratio in the canine diet is between 1:1 and 2:1. Meat contains a lot of phosphorus, so the more meat a diet contains, the more calcium will be required to reach the correct calcium:phosphorus ratio. Adding 800 to 1,000 mg of calcium will provide the correct calcium:phosphorus ratio even for a high-meat diet, unless you use a calcium supplement that also contains phosphorus. In that case, moderately higher amounts of calcium may be needed to balance out the additional phosphorus contained in the supplement.

Ground eggshell can be used as a calcium supplement. Rinse eggshells and dry them on a counter overnight, or in the oven, then grind them in a clean coffee grinder. One large eggshell provides one teaspoon of ground eggshell, which contains 2,000 mg of calcium, so add 1/2 teaspoon ground eggshell per pound of food fed. Don’t use eggshells that haven’t been ground to powder, as they may not be absorbed as well.