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story.lead_photo.caption FILE: Donna Ponder holds her chihuahua, Scooter, in 2018 while walking her other two poodles, Gracie and Casper, at Westside Veterinary Clinic in Jefferson City. Ponder obtained all three of her dogs from animal shelters. Photo by Jenna Kieser / Fulton Sun.

Think twice before sharing Thanksgiving leftovers with four-legged friends.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, many popular Thanksgiving dishes can pose serious health issues to dogs and cats when consumed. Turkey skin and scraps, gravy and other fatty items can cause animals a life-threatening condition known as pancreatitis because animals have a difficult time digesting these items.

"It's one of the most common things. I see it all the time but it definitely increases after Thanksgiving," said Dr. Kitty Barnett, from the Callaway County Small Animal Veterinary Clinic.

Additionally, pies and other desserts can be potentially deadly for pets to consume. Sugar-free desserts and some peanut butters may contain a common artificial sweetener called xylitol, which is poisonous to dogs and cats.

Yeast dough from dinner rolls or other baked goods can cause potentially dangerous bloating in animals and painful gas. Fruits and vegetables can pose issues for pets as well such as onions, grapes and raisins, which are toxic for dogs.

Though Barnett has not seen any animals die from eating the foods mentioned above, she said it is very possible, if they are not brought into the veterinarian soon enough.

"If you were on a low fat diet and then you went to Kentucky Fried Chicken, you'd feel really bad because you're not used to that high fat intake," Barnett said.

Animal bones can be dangerous as they may splinter or damage a pet's digestive tract. Drinks such as eggnog can cause extreme diarrhea in animals and potentially death if spiked with alcohol.

The AVMA suggests keeping "people food" out of reach of animals. Guests should be reminded not to give in to begging. They also warn against having pets in contact with various festive holiday plants such as amaryllis, mistletoe, balsam, pine, cedar and holly. These plants can be potentially poisonous to house pets.

"You're probably better off enjoying Thanksgiving dinner with their two-legged friends instead of their four-legged friends," Barnett said. "But if you do feel like giving them something special, maybe just a little turkey breast or chicken broth."

Barnett also said, in addition to turkey breast, carrots and plain green beans are safe to feed pets.

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