A letter to the editor warns dog owners to cover their compost piles so their pets can’t eat what’s inside.

These are the four paws that "protect" my garden.

These are the four paws that “protect” my garden.

I’m in the office today, but I’ll bet my dog is in the vegetable garden right now. And I doubt she’s staying on the paths.

Unlike the family dogs that have patrolled my garden in the past, this one doesn’t like paths. She’d also rather chase bees than rabbits and chipmunks. And dog food? It’s just that: dog food. She prefers to wait for people food to pass through the kitchen and make its way into a garbage can or the compost pile.

A letter to the editor in our local paper this week, warns dog owners to cover their compost piles so their pets can’t eat what’s inside. The writer, a veterinarian, says he’s treated a number of dogs who have taken sick after getting into some bad food from a compost pile.

Hopefully these pet owners weren’t putting meat, fish and dairy products into their compost piles. That’s never a good idea.

But I agree with his recommendation to keep your compost pile covered. There are actually a couple good reasons to do so. One is to keep your dog (or the neighbor’s) from dumpster diving. Covering your compost or using an enclosed bin with a well-fitting lid, also helps retain moisture during the summer months to encourage faster decomposition. In areas with plentiful summer rainfall, keeping your compost covered will minimize the leaching of nutrients, too.

-Kathy LaLiberte, Director of Gardening