Choosing a Pet Door: Common Concerns & Solutions
It can be intimidating learning how to pick a dog door that will work the best for you. With hundreds of dog door sizes and options out there, how do you pick the right dog door? At the end of the day, not all pet doors are made equal, and 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). 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, so follow these tips about types of dog doors and how to choose the ideal pet door for your home.
Choosing a Dog Door
Main concerns that people share:
- Choosing by Animal & their Special Size needs
- How to Choose a Pet Door For Your Pet
- Choosing by Features
Where to Install a Dog Door
A major factor to keep in mind when choosing a door design 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 different styles of dog 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 or sliding door, for example, will be constructed of different materials, and be a different depth than a through-wall dog door. The location of a pet door will also affect the dynamic of your home. Expect to see more of your furry friend around the area of their pet door. This could ultimately cause more traffic around a dog door through walls, which may require you to rearrange furniture or to relocate fragile pieces. See the pros and cons of dog doors here.
Here are some of our recommended locations for pet door installation:
Dog Doors For Doors
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.Expert Recommendations:
Dog Doors for Walls
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 from 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.
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 it in the patio frame. Included:
- Flap door
- 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 thumbscrews 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 to screw or cut into your sliding glass door unit. Check out our Comparison chart or Frequently Asked Questions about patio panels!
Pet Door in 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
Dog Doors 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 the 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.
Weather Resistant Dog Doors
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 weather to get 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!
But don't worry, there are dozens of brands and models that specialize in this kind of heavy-duty, cold-weather pet door. Most of them boast a multi-year warranty, as well! If this sounds like what you need, read about The Best Cold Weather Dog Doors.
Dog Door for Renters
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 renters 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 with a brand new exterior doggie door! Then when you move, you can have a glazier put the original piece of glass back!
Dog Door by Size
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 doggy doors are designed 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, outdoor and indoor 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 timider 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. Hale carries dog doors for large and small dogs with a nice large, yet very light flap.
Choosing a Dog Door 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 electronic dog 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. You can even get a pet door installed directly into the glass of your sliding door. 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!
Choosing the perfect size and model pet door starts with a few things to consider:
- Where do you want to install it? Wall? Door? Door insert? Screen door?
- 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 doggie doors per installation location. Some include:
- Microchip enabled and High Tech electronic
- Manual (pet has to push the flap open)
- Energy efficient
- DIY and 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. This 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 criteria 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:
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! Take a look at the 10 reasons why the Endura Flap is the best pet door. 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!
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
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 tend to wear out over time which requires replacing the flap. The Draft Stopper has an aluminum frame that 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 gaps 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 and very easy do-it-yourself potential!
- 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.
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 anyone. It can be a great addition for busy families, working owners, and other similar situations. Shopping for the best cat door and the best dog door can require a bit of research and consideration. Here are 7 dos and dont's that all pet owners should consider.
Do’s of Buying a Dog 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 Dog 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. If you are worried about the cost of higher quality pet door, you can use this special discount coupon code!
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.
What size dog door do i need?
This pet measurement guide will show you exactly how to measure your pet for pet doors! Make sure to measure accurately, and you'll never buy the wrong size pet door!
In any case, you may also want to check out our dog door pros and cons here! If you still have any questions or concerns about choosing the right pet door for you, give us a call or hop on live chat on our website! We have amazing customer service representatives that will be able to help you out.