Rise in West Michigan kennel cough cases this year

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WYOMING, Mich. -- Kennel Cough is on the rise in West Michigan, with more than twice as many reports as last year at one animal medical center.

The Animal Medical Center of Wyoming has reported at least a dozen cases of kennel cough in the last month, while only six were reported last year at this time.

"We see it throughout the year," said Dr. Marc Leven, owner of the center. "The only reason we see it more in the summer is that pets are outside more, maybe going for walks, maybe in a kennel environment, being groomed... Any time there's exposure to an infectious animal."

Although Dr. Leven says the reason for this year's increase is unknown, there are ways to protect your pet. Vaccination can reduce the likelihood of contracting kennel cough, and its severity.

"And it is something that we treat," said Leven. "We put them on an antibiotic and a cough suppressant. The disease itself can last from two to three weeks with treatment. Without treatment, it can go on for one to two months."

Since kennel cough is most commonly spread from one pet to another, it's also important to board them in a safe area before you go out of town.

"First, we make sure they're up to date on vaccines," said Alicia Offringa, General Manager of Camp Bow Wow in Hudsonville. "We require what's called the bordetella vaccine that helps protect against kennel cough. We require it every six months at our facility."

Kennel cough isn't dangerous on its own, but it can lead to secondary infections if left untreated. So if your dog is lethargic or has a fever, be sure to check with your vet.

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