CHICAGO (WLS) -- Melting snow is uncovering pet waste left dormant over the winter. Pet owners worry that could be behind an increase in dogs with kennel cough.
But, Kennel cough is a contagious respiratory condition that can quickly develop into something more serious, Dr. Anne Cohen, Chicago Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Center, said.
"In an environment of lots of people having dogs, they go to doggy daycare. They go to shelters. They go to groomers. So we are seeing a lot more dogs close together getting sick," she said.
The normal bacterial cause of kennel cough, called bordatella brachiseptica, is being complicated by viruses that cause the same symptoms.
"Their own immune systems will fight it. It's when they get sicker, like with a fever, they stop eating, when they cough too much or if they develop bronch-pneumonia, that's when we need to start treating these dogs," she said.
Kennel cough clusters are reported throughout the Midwest. Dog walker Mariene Lacerda said two of her clients have had kennel cough.
"I think everybody should be aware and diligent about picking up after their dogs," Lacerda said.
That mess can lead to health problems.
"If you are noticing any increased coughing perk your ears up a little bit more and consult your veterinarian," Dr. Cohen said.
Veterinarians said they are seeing about ten times the number of dogs with kennel cough symptoms as they did this time last year.