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the changes are based on advancement in medical and immunologic knowledge. The new vaccination protocols have started over the last several years and should be universally accepted in the next few years. Old habits die hard and this is no exception. Vaccine protocols are no longer "one size fits all," either. Beyond the core vaccines, which are given to all dogs, the additional vaccines a dog receives should be decided upon by the dogs owner and veterinarian, based on the dogs risk of exposure to the other diseases.

There are two final points I would like to stress. First, the most important vaccinations a dog receives are those that are given to it as a young puppy. Be sure that all dogs receive distemper virus, parvovirus, and adenovirus type 2 vaccinations at 6-8weeks, 9-11 weeks and 12-14 weeks of age. Give a rabies vaccination to all pups 12 weeks of age or older. Then booster these vaccines one year later. Second, an important aspect of a dog being vaccinated annually by its veterinarian has been that it also receives a yearly physical exam at that time. This yearly preventative health exam is very important in the early detection of health problems the dog may have. If the new vaccination protocol for your dog results in it not getting any vaccination for over a year, schedule an annual physical exam for your dog during that year. A pre-hunting season workup would make sense for hunting dogs in this situation. Vaccinations are powerful medical procedures and as such should not be used without thorough consideration and research. These new guidelines should lead to the development of a less frequent but more individualized vaccination program for your dog.

Dan Novitch graduated from the University of Wisconsin Madison School of Veterinary Medicine in 1996. He practices in Merrill, WI. He and his dog Jasmine spend their free time chasing grouse and woodcock in the surrounding woods.

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