The most popular things to consider when thinking about buying a pet door

Choosing a Pet Door: Common Concerns & Solutions

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!

Main concerns that people share:

Location

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.

Weather

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!

Renting

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. Pet door solutions for rrenters are available if you have a sliding glass door or a window that your pet can access!

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!

Choosing by Animal & their Special Size Needs

There are pet doors tailored specifically to the needs of your pet; cat or dog. Each has different capabilities and needs, so it is important that your choice reflects these differences. For instance, most dog doors are designed to with specific height ratios, from the floors to the height of the dog’s shoulder, as they tend to keep their heads tucked when entering. Cats, on the other hand, will not necessarily do this, and design features match up accordingly. Even in terms of width, cats tend to be able to slip through more narrow spaces due to their skeletal structure. Therefore, cat doors tend to be narrower, which could allow you more options when choosing where to install your pet door.

The important thing to consider here is your pet’s size needs that vary according to your pet’s physical and his current situation. 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.

Choosing by Features

The bells and whistles! There’s nothing wrong with adding a bit of flair to your pet’s private entryway. It’s easy to find doors with all kinds of features – from motorized doors, to doors that utilize implantable microchips. These doors offer much in the way of convenience and can help to reduce the amount of assistance your pet might need when becoming acquainted with their new passage. Some pet doors are constructed with premium materials that reduce temperature changes, that are resistant to browning/chipping, and more. Whatever features are most important to you, it is likely that there are a number of pet doors that can meet your needs.

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!

How to Choose a Pet door for your Pet then?

Choosing the perfect size and model pet door starts with a few things to consider:

  • Where do you want to install?
  • Do you have space in your desired install location? (away from wall studs, plumbing, electrical etc.)
  • What kind of features are you hoping for?
  • How much are you looking to spend?

There are many different types of cat and dog doors per installation location. Some include:

  • Microchip enabled
  • Manual (pet has to push the flap open)
  • Energy efficient
  • Economical
  • Electronic collar key required

We recommend checking out the Details and Additional Information tabs on each product page. Some dog doors have the option of getting dual or double flaps. Which means your pet will need to go through two (2) flappers to come in or out. The double door flaps offer an increase in insulation. We suggest two flaps for 4-season regions who can experience harsh weather. While these types can be more expensive, you end up saving on heating and air conditioning!

Best Pet Doors to Choose for your Pet: With Both Single & Double Flaps

Pet doors that have a higher aspect ratio can achieve all of the above criterias 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:

Patio Pacific Endura Flap best pet doors for dogs and cats

The Endura Flap

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:

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!

Read: Why Endura Flap can be the choice for your Pet Doors

Hale Pet Doors

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.

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!

Best Affordable Pet Doors to Choose from

Affordable Pet doors for dogs and cats

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.

Where can I install my Dog or Cat Door: Pet Door locations

In a ‘People’ Door

Often referred to as a standard pet door mounting style, a door mount can be a great fit for an interior or exterior door. Many of the products we carry can be installed in wooden doors, with options to install in thin storm and metal doors as well. It is always recommended to keep your pet door frame a few inches from the bottom of your people door to keep the entire unit stable. Keep in mind you also don’t want the cat door height to be too far off the ground either.

Cat coming inside the house through SureFlap Pet Doors for Small Pets
Expert Recommendations: Expert Recommendations:

For the best insulation: Endura Flap Pet Door for Doors
Less Expensive: PetSafe Plastic Pet Door
Economical + Quality: Ideal Deluxe

Through a Wall

This location gives you full control to remove the frame and flap any time and match up the space; leaving no trace of the pet door’s existence. There are a few more things to be careful of with a wall mount. Keep in mind you or a contractor will need to frame out the interior of the wall to prevent moisture and weather deteriorating your home. Many of our products will have a tunnel kit included to help with installation! There are often electrical wires, pipes, and studs running through the walls; this can cause injury and prevent a pet door installation if you cut or hit any of these. Be sure your area is clear of this type of material.

Endura Flap Pet Door for walls fo small dogs and cats

Best Insulation: Endura Flap Pet Door for Walls

Best for Small and Large Pets Sharing: Hale Pet doors for Walls

Less Expensive: Ideal Ruff Weather Dog Door (wall kit/tunnel sold separately)

We also have Frequently Asked Questions about pet doors for doors. Just scroll down to the bottom of the page, and use the “Ctrl F” function to find specific keywords!

Patio Panels for Sliding Glass Doors

The most innovative model yet, panel inserts are one of the most user friendly pet doors to install. If you have a slider, you can temporarily install it so you can take it in and out with ease, or permanently install in the patio frame. Included:

  • Flap
  • Glass Panel with framing (aluminum or vinyl)
  • Unique lock for sliding glass door (every panel comes with their own)
  • Adjustable top to fit your track height

You can still use your slider normally, only the walking space is reduced by the panel’s width. Many of the patio panels have a spring loaded adjustable top piece that allows you to insert the patio panel up and over your tracks, while springing into a tight and secure position that can be tightened with thumb screws on the inside of your home. Simply measure the height of your door and see which of our height adjustment ranges works for you; don’t see your track height? We can build you a custom patio panel! Several of the patio panel options require no tools for installation and will not require you screw or cut into your sliding glass door unit. Check out our Comparison chart or Frequently Asked Questions about patio panels!

In a Window Sash (Up and Down opening)

Similar to our patio panels discussed above, window sash pet doors can easily be installed and can work for unique situations. Often times, cat owners love the idea of a window sash pet door. Have a window that slides open sideways or up and down on a track? Easily insert a window sash into its track and allow your pets to have free access to enter and exit your home at will.
Best insulation: Thermo Sash IIIE
For cats: Ideal “Cat Sash”
For Side Sliding Windows: Custom Thermo Panel IIIe

Through the Glass

Patio inserts could take up more space than you desire. In this case, we do have quite a few pet doors that can be installed directly in your glass door. Should you choose to purchase a pet door that can install into glass, we recommend hiring a glazier to cut your physical glass. While this involves communication with a few different groups, we offer a simplified solution. An In the Glass Unit can be custom ordered to match your glass dimensions. This piece of glass will have a pet door already installed. We keep the messy work while your glazier need only replace your glass.

Check out all Through Glass Models here for cats and dogs.

The 7 Dos and Don’ts of Buying a Pet Door

Pet doors are the perfect option for allowing cats and dogs access in and out of your home when they need it, without having to disturb their anyone. It can be a great addition for busy families, working owners, and other similar situations. Shopping for the best pet door can require a bit of research and consideration. Here are 7 dos and don’ts that all pet owners should consider.

Do’s of Buying a Pet Door

Those who have larger animals may find that they have to install a dog door that a human with less than admirable intentions could also fit through. There is also the potential threat of wild animals or even just the neighbor’s cat being able to slip into the home. If you find yourself in this position, consider buying a pet door with an automatic door, which can detect a sensor on the collar of the animal that is allowed access and will only open for that pet.

Consider energy costs

Many cheaper pet doors have only flimsy, poorly insulated covers. Poor insulation might account for up to 20 percent of a home’s energy bill, and the dog or cat door can be a big contributor towards this problem. Doors such as a Thermo Panel can help avoid these energy costs. Like other types of green investments, the extra money saved on energy bills will easily make up for the additional cost of the door.

Consider the options.

There are a number of different design options depending upon visual preferences, materials, and the type of door. Since this choice will be affecting the home in a number of different ways, from energy usage to security to appearance, this is not a choice that should be purchased based upon the first listing in a search result. Research the different options, read reviews, and select the one that works best.

Selecting the right pet door can mean that the animals of the house become more independent and have an enhanced quality of life. There are a number of options available for pet owners. Those interested in learning more should keep the above dos and don’ts in mind as they begin their search.

Don’ts of Buying a Pet Door

Assume that doors are a one-size-fits-all investment.

You should take measurements of your pet to determine the exact size of door that he or she will need. You should also consider the temperament of your pet. A biter, for example, should have a bite-proof door. Some owners might also prefer a door that locks to keep pets from wandering overnight or during particular times of the day.

Let price overrule you.

While for most owners, the cost will be an important consideration; it should not be the only one. Investing in a door that makes the owners feel insecure in their own home, causes larger energy bills, or can easily be destroyed by the pet will end up costing more in the long run. Consider all your requirements and select a door that will work well for your family and animals for years to come.

Think your dog or cat automatically knows how to use the door.

Pets will need to be taught how to use the door. Some pets will figure it out after just a demonstration or two. Others might need a bit more time to really master their new door. In either case, use encouragement, rewards, and patience to teach the animal and you will be rewarded in the end.

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19 thoughts on “Choosing a Pet Door: Common Concerns & Solutions

  1. Beverly Scott

    Glad to have found this blog. We live in Maine, where the winters can be severe. Would love to install a suitable pet door for our dog but that our three indoor cats can’t use. Have considered a door with a smart key, which also would keep outside critters from coming in. The problem is that the electronic doors don’t appear to be geared for our climate, but the other doors could be too enticing for the kitties to explore. We do have an attached garage, so I’ve even though we might put the doggie door on the outside door or wall. We’d still need to let her into the house from the garage, or maybe could install a simpler pet door into that interior door. What’s your best suggestion for us? Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Rachel Long Post author

      Hi Beverly! I would recommend getting an Endura Flap Double Flap for a wall installation. I personally have a single flap in my sliding glass door that my 3 indoor cats have never figured out, even when my two dogs use it right in front of them. The Endura Flap seals so tightly, that most cats think it is locked when they try to push it! If you get a larger size, it increases the difficulty, and then if you have a double flap it becomes very challenging for a cat to use even if they know how. I prefer manual to electronic because I don’t want to rely on something that might break down, but that is just personal preference! Electronic pet doors can be great solutions for situations like yours as well. Here is the Endura Flap for walls that I would recommend: https://www.petdoors.com/endura-dog-doors-for-walls.html

      Feel free to email us at customerservice@petdoors.com with more questions!

      Reply
  2. T. H.

    I installed a microchip pet door over a year ago that was well over $200 + installation and my 2 dogs never use it. They are afraid of the door and the clicking sound it makes and the loud swinging of the door when it opens and closes. After a short time the door from the outside malfunctioned and will open when it is in the locked position for by pushing it (no Chip required). I tried calling Cust Svc to get help with the door and any suggestions that would help my dogs to use it and was offered nothing. I would not waste money on an expensive door if your dogs are timid and will not go through the door. I bought a new door for this installation and now I have an eye sore to look at with several hundred dollars less in my pocket and no outlet for my dogs other than opening the door myself. Very disappointed in the product and the service.

    Reply
    1. Rachel Long Post author

      When you received the item, did you turn it on “Learning Mode” in the beginning? That turns off all the electronics so there are no scary sounds. SureFlap has wonderful customer support for more technical questions, and can be reached at 1-855-461-4740, or you can always call us at 800-826-2871 x2.

      Reply
  3. Rita Stolzenberg

    I have French doors, so I would have to make a hole in a supporting wall. Also I have four cats that I do not want to get out — we have Hawks and bobcats here. What kind of pet door could I get, and how would the cats not get out?

    Reply
    1. Rachel Long Post author

      Hi Rita!

      You have a couple of options. You could go with an electronic pet door that only unlocks when a pet wearing a collar key approaches, or you could get a flap that is too difficult for your cats to figure out. Electronic pet doors can be great solutions, though you have to be aware that they depend on moving parts and collar keys so there are several ways that they can fail. You’ll want an electronic option that the dogs push through so the cats have a harder time following close behind, such as the PetSafe Smart Door.
      Manual pet doors are usually preferred for their reliability, and the Endura Flap seals so tightly that most cats don’t figure out how to push through them without training. If you installed a larger sized double flap, you can even add extra magnets to make it require more force and it would be very unlikely that your cat would use the pet door.

      Let me know if you have any more questions!

      Reply
  4. Terry

    I have a pug and a shih tzu that are about 13 years old and slowing down. I have two concerns. Will any of these doors provide a hazard for the eyes on these two breeds since they are out front and not protected as well as larger nose dogs? ( sharp edges on magnets, hard doors versus soft flexible doors, etc) Will any of these doors be too hard for them to push open? We get really gusty winds and rain comes in our current doggie door and our current doggie door over time gets gaps on the edges and allow mosquitos inside.

    Reply
    1. Rachel Long Post author

      Hi Terry!

      I would definitely recommend a flexible flap pet door over a rigid flap. To prevent wind from opening the pet door, you’ll want one that has side magnets as well as magnets at the bottom! The Endura Flap is tested to withstand winds up to 50mph and is a flexible material. The magnets seal the flap so well it can be challenging for dogs to learn at first, but the magnets are easily removed so you can have a training period without the resistance.

      If the Endura Flap looks too difficult for your dogs, you can check out the Hale pet door which has side magnets on the larger sizes. You can also add magnets!

      Email customerservice@petdoors.com with any other questions, thank you!

      Reply
  5. Kwinten Alexander

    Hi,

    I had never considered a pet door before but now I am interested. My dog is still young and very jumpy so it would be great for him to get more exercise outside. Two questions that I have are:
    1. Over time the flaps and seals will wear, leading to leaks and drafts. Which of these models have replaceable seals?
    2. Do you have any tips on teaching a dog to use these doors? Mine is very enthusiastic but not too bright:)

    Looking forward to your reply,

    Reply
    1. Rachel Long Post author

      Hi Kwinten!

      The Endura Flap is the most energy efficient pet door that seals extremely well year-round. It also has a 15 year warranty, and if taken care of you should not need to replace the flap to keep the pet door sealing well! However, if something does happen (usually because of a chewer) you can replace the flaps. The magnets are removable so that they become effortless to push through while your dog learns how to use them. Some treats and positive reinforcement should do the trick! Then you can put the magnets back and enjoy keeping your inside air inside, and the outside air outside while your dog gets to enjoy the yard. Let us know if you have any more questions!

      Thank you!

      Reply
  6. Bev McKeen

    We live in a Coyote area so bringing our cats in at night is essential. They come and go all day but a couple of them don’t like to come in at night, and many nights we are still looking for them at midnight. Needless to say, this is getting very old, so we would like to find a door that we can set at say 3pm so that when they come on to eat, they cannot go back out. Do you have such a door?

    Reply
    1. Rachel Long Post author

      Hi Bev! As a matter of fact, there are cat doors that will accomplish this task!

      There is a simple Cat Mate one that let’s you set when it is accessible: https://www.petdoors.com/cat-mate-359.html
      And then you can look at the SureFlap Microchip Pet Door which only lets your cats that you program inside and also features a Curfew Mode: https://www.petdoors.com/sureflap-microchip-pet-door.html

      Feel free to contact customerservice@petdoors.com with more questions!

      Reply
  7. Scott

    This is one of those products that they old saying “you get what you pay for” applies. Although the higher priced doors take more out of your budget, in the long run you’ll be happier with their performance, energy savings and longevity.

    Reply
  8. Paula B

    The cost of hiring a pet sitter to let my 2 dogs out during the day is so outrageous! Definitely considering installing a pet door. Problem is that I have a 45 pound basset hound and a 6 pound Chihuahua. Any suggestions?

    Reply