Choosing a Pet Door
It can be intimidating when choosing a new pet door. There are pet doors that are better than others based on the situation. Depending on your needs, you might want to spend a bit more on a high quality pet door that will last for your pet’s entire lifetime (and then some), or you might need a quick fix for a temporary situation. If you’re installing a pet door through your garage, you might have different concerns than if you’re installing one in your living room, too!
A major factor to keep in mind when choosing a door for your pet is the location the door will be installed. While this might seem like a “no brainer,” there is a growing trend of doors being installed in walls, and not just doors. Different models are designed with the nuances of your home in mind. A pet door chosen for a patio door, for example, will be constructed of different materials, and be a different depth than a pet door intended for use through a wall. The location of a pet door will also affect the dynamic of you home. Expect to see more of your furry friend around the area of their pet door. This could ultimately cause more traffic, which may require you to rearrange furniture, or to relocate fragile pieces.
If you have a harsh climate, with anything like snow, extreme heat, or gusty winds you might be skeptical about installing a pet door in your home. No one wants all that getting inside! A solution for these situations would be a pet door that seals tightly and insulates well. Electronic pet doors are usually successful at this, but they do have moving parts that are prone to breaking which can leave your pet stranded inside or outside. Not to mention the collar keys that are easy to lose, and batteries that need replacing!
Pet Door Options
If you want to stick with a manual pet door, take a look at the Endura Flap. With solid magnets on all three sides, and the dual-pane design of the polyolefin-based polymer flap, this pet door seals tightly and insulates extremely well against all weather conditions without breaking down with extended use like other flexible pet doors. If you have experienced or heard of those “petsmart dog doors” then you know what it means for a flap to warp and let in outside air! The Endura Flap insulates great and has the best seal of all the pet doors we’ve seen, just take a look at this video:
You might also check out Hale Pet Doors for a well insulated pet door! These ones have magnets on the sides and bottom as well as fuzzy weather stripping around the edges which helps keep the flap sealed.
Renters have the issue of damaging the home when choosing a pet door, which is required for typical door or wall mounted pet doors. These require a hole to be cut, which can be repaired but sometimes your landlord might not approve. Solutions for these situations are available if you have a sliding glass door or a window that your pet can access!
- Take a look at our pet doors for sliding glass doors >
- Take a look at our pet doors for up and down closing sash windows >
You can also use an In the Glass Pet Door which actually gives you a replacement piece of glass for an existing sliding glass door or window that has a pet door at the bottom. With the help of a glazier, just swap out the current glass with the new pet door glass and you’re good to go! Then when you move, you can have a glazier put the original piece of glass back!
Special Size Needs
Some pets are more timid than others, and sometimes people have a Chihuahua sharing a pet door with a giant German Shepherd. Big dogs don’t always want to jump to get through a pet door, either! Especially not if they’ve had surgery, suffer from an old injury, or experience general arthritis that comes with old age. In these situations you’ll want to install a larger pet door so it can be both high enough for the tallest dog to step through without stooping, and low enough that no one has to struggle to lift up their feet or jump through the pet door.
What to Look for
Pet doors that have a higher aspect ratio can achieve this without excessive width added to the opening, so your pet door does not need to be larger than necessary. Please review how to measure your pet before choosing a flap size! Here are some pet doors that have higher aspect ratios:
- The Endura Flap has an extra large flexible flap of 12” x 23”, but it seals so tightly that it can be hard for little dogs to push open! The strength is adjustable for learning, but defeats the purpose of the seal if you have to leave magnets out long-term. With magnets on all three sides, no gapping occurs for air leakage. The single flap version is easier for timid or small pets, and the double flap adds to the already extreme insulation!
- Hale Pet Doors have 11 different sizes as well as custom sizing, so you can definitely find a size to work for your situation! The flaps are easy to open and perfectly clear, so little dogs will have an easier time pushing through a larger vinyl flap than in a tighter sealing pet door. The pet door still seals well with magnets on the sides and bottom as well as fuzzy weather stripping along all sides and has the option of a double flap!
When Price Matters
We can’t all justify spending $200+ on a pet door, but maybe you want something that seals decently well while sticking to your budget. The one thing you should never compromise on when choosing a pet door is size, as getting a pet door that is too small for your pet can be uncomfortable for them to use. Pets are known to avoid pet doors that are uncomfortable, and we have even heard horror stories of pets hurting themselves trying to get through pet doors that are too small! Remember to measure your pet and it is a good idea to test the flap size, too!
Best Affordable Pet Doors
Economy style pet doors will never be as durable or as insulating as the more expensive ones, but here are some options that meet somewhere in the middle:
- The Ideal Aluminum Premium Draft Stopper is a good option if you want something that insulates well and seals tightly. The flap is made from three rigid panels jointed together by rubber, so that it is both rigid and flexible. While still vulnerable to heavy winds, it will remain sealed through most of your weather! The rubber joints tends to wear out over time which requires replacing the flap. The Draft Stopper has an aluminum frame which is far more durable than plastic! There is also a plastic framed version, the Ultra Flex.
- The Ideal Ruff Weather has two vinyl flaps with fuzzy weather stripping along the sides to help insulate. The magnets are at the bottom of the flap only, so you will still experience gapping along the sides when there is heavy wind or as the flaps warp over time. Since there are two flaps you will have better insulation than with other pet doors that only have one! The Ruff weather has a plastic frame.
- The PetSafe Extreme Weather actually has three flaps, the middle flap serving to provide greater insulation. Both interior and exterior flaps have magnets at the bottom to keep them closed, and no additional weather stripping on the sides. The frame and screws that are provided are made from plastic.