Looking after a pet's teeth is an important part of caring for your furry friend, stresses a P.E.I. veterinarian.

February is National Pet Dental Health Month and Dr. David Condon, owner of the Abegweit Animal Hospital in Charlottetown, wants owners to know that dental disease such as gingivitis is very common in dogs and cats.

It can progress to more serious periodontal disease, he said.

Symptoms include a bad odour coming from your pet's mouth, dropping food or drooling excessively, he said.              

Pets tend to want to hide oral pain from their owners, Condon added.

"By the time they show as outwardly signs, things can be quite well advanced," he said.

"Much more importantly for pet owners is just to develop a habit just from puppyhood or kittenhood to just routinely lift up your pet's lip, have a look in there. If you see that brown accumulation of tartar, or if you see any indication of red gums, go see your veterinarian and have the problem addressed in the early stages."

Pet owners can help prevent dental disease by brushing their pet's teeth, and if that's not possible, providing dental chews or treats, said Condon.              

It's best to choose products that are approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council, he said.