BOZEMAN, Mont. -

Bozeman veterinarians are asking dog owners to watch out for a sickness that's spreading like wildfire.

Dr. Colin Bonnett at the Gallatin Veterinary Hospital said they're seeing a dramatic spike in the number of kennel cough cases around town.

Just at their hospital, he said, at least 20 dogs have come in with the bug over the past month.

Kennel Cough is a highly contagious bacterial infection that can last for weeks. As the name suggests, the main symptom is a dry, hacking cough.

Bonnett said the best way to prevent your pup from catching it is through vaccines, and staying away from areas with lots of dogs such as an off-leash park.

"The classic kind of course of the illness is just that dry, hacking cough and a real decrease in their activity, their performance for an upwards of two to three weeks even" Bonnett said. "So it really is a bummer because it lingers around in the animals for a long time."

Bonnett said the infection isn't life-threatening, and he equated it to the human common cold. In addition to the cough, sick animals will be lethargic, lose their appetite and sneeze frequently.

If your dog is exhibiting those symptoms, Bonnett said the best course of action is to call your local veterinarian and get medication.

The medication can help lessen the symptoms and duration of kennel cough, and prevent your dog from spreading it to others.