Problems with your doggie door or cat flap

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If you've thought about a pet door but haven't yet purchased...

it may be because you're worried about pet door problems you might face.

Here are some common pet door problems AND their solutions:

By far, the most important dog door problem is the possible danger to which you may be exposing your children. It is not at all uncommon for a child to crawl through a dog door into possible danger--most often a backyard pool. Before you install a dog door you must make sure that you are not exposing your child to peril. Please don't think that the pet door is too small for this to happen. Children can crawl through very tight spaces. You must test carefully if you are relying upon small size.

The dangers to pets can be serious also. The general rule is that pets must only be allowed access to a controlled space where you can be sure of their safety. Dogs and cats roaming the neighborhood are a danger to themselves and possibly to others.

The pet door flap is going to leak and you'll freeze in the winter or lose all your cool air in the summer. You're right to worry about this! Here's an example of the leaky flap problem that will occur with the majority of cat doors and dog doors sold every day. The solution: Get a pet door that seals very well. The Endura Flap pet doors have been tested from well below zero to 130f without losing their seal. Endura Flap dog doors and cat doors won the coveted Fancy Publications Editors Choice Award for 2007 partly because they seal and insulate extremely well.

Unusual but it happens. Solution: add adhesive foam weather stripping to the sides of the door (some doors come with foam stripping, if not you can buy at your local hardware store). Clean the surface where you will install the foam stripping. Cut a single piece of the foam stripping with scissors to the length of the pet door. Peel back the paper on the foam to expose the adhesive. Install the foam strip in the channels on both sides of the panel pet door.

Solution: The Endura Flap dog doors have been tested to over 3 million times on our test machine and carry a 15 year warranty. Learn all about the Endura Flap line here!

The obvious solution is to choose one of the electronic pet doors that requires a collar key (or microchip) for both directions. That will likely work, particularly if you hit the cat with a squirtgun every time he goes near the pet door (Please, just water!) for a week or two.

If you're not happy about the prospect of an electronic pet door--after all, they do fail more frequently that manual pet doors do, then consider an Endura Flap pet door. While the Endura Flap pet doors are commonly used by cats, there are things you can do to change that. First, get the double flap version. It's less accessible for a small animal than is the single. Then, for the small and medium sizes, add a magnet set to the single set supplied and move the two sets to the outside edges of the flap. Do this for both flaps. Finally, replace the pvc threshold with a metal one on both flaps. For the Large and XLarge, you already have two magnet sets so just reposition them from the standard center location to the outside edges. Then add the metal threshold. That metal threshold, by the way, will produce an approximate 50% increase the the magnetic pulling power on the flap. Combine those steps with the squirt gun idea and we think you're cat is going to be staying inside.

Solution: check out the Bug Warden for a neat solution to this problem.

What if a burglar climbs through your large sized pet door? Well, you can stop worrying. Get the Watchdog Security Pet Door Locker and you've got 12 guage steel and a steel combination lock between that burglar and your pet door. Works on doors and walls for the ultimate in pet door security. See thumbnail below.

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Here are some examples of the more common installation problems and how to solve them.

Hollow Core Door Graphic

You've got a hollow-core or steel door

Best bet is to purchase a self-framing pet door. Then you may skip the framing part below.

If you've already got a pet door that isn't self-framing, you'll need to frame the hole as shown. To do that you're going to need a table saw to rip the pieces to the correct thickness. Glue in place, clamp and let dry. Then mount the pet door.

The only difference in a steel door is that you use a different saw for cutting the hole. Jig saw with a metal cutting blade works best.

Door with Irregular Surface graphic

Your door has an irregular surface

Every pet door wants to be installed on a flat surface so you'll need to make it flat.

It's probably a good idea to choose a sturdy metal-framed pet door for this application. The plastic-framed ones are easier to distort if the surface isn't perfectly flat and any distortion may cause the flap to bind and not swing freely.

The best, neatest way to handle this situation is shown: cut furring strips just thick enough to bring the thinner areas up to the same thickness as the thicker areas.

Cheater method: Get a self-framing pet door and make each of the four corners the same thickness. Then caulk in the spaces between the corners.

Screen Door Grapic

You've got a screen door

You could have chosen a simple pet door from the screen mount page and installed it directly through the screen.

However, this method--which uses a door mount type pet door--is much sturdier.

Of course, you can also cut down into the base of the door to reduce the step-over for a shorter pet. Don't cut so far that you weaken the door frame though!

Note that this same approach may be used for a screened-in porch: add framing members to support a door mount pet door.

Installing a Pet Door in a Wall

You want your pet door in a wall

Easiest is to purchase a 'self-framing' manual wall mount or electronic wall mount pet door. But if the particular pet door you want is designed for installation in a door you probably still can install it in your wall if you have the skills to frame the wall yourself. We think it best to hire this job out to a contractor. It's a big problem if you cut into electrical or fail to seal the wall properly against weather.

This 'leaker' is available in most pet supply stores nationwide!

This 'leaker' is available in most pet supply stores nationwide!

A closer look.

A closer look.

What kind of performance can you expect from your new pet door?

That's going to depend primarily on the flap in the pet door you buy.

The examples to the right show a very popular 'large' size flap that has been used by two dogs--one about 75 lbs and one about 60--for a period of around 3 years.

The edges of the flap are severely 'potato chipping' and, consequently, let in large amounts of outside air. Here in San Luis Obispo, California, that doesn't matter too much and replacing the flap hasn't been a high priority. (Obviously, cleaning the flap hasn't been either!).

What if you happen to be in a less climate-friendly area?

Some manufacturers include fuzzy weather-strip down the sides of the frame which is an improvement. Unfortunately, the fuzz still passes air freely.

Some will also include an occasional magnet on the side which helps also.

However, our new Endura Flap™ (patented, pat. pending) pet doors are very best solution to this problem:

  • Continuous magnetic contact top to bottom.
  • Unique 'bellows' on both flap edges permit temperature change expansion and contraction without breaking the seal.
  • Pivot rod allows the flap to swing without flexing so the flap material doesn't flex and fail.

If you'd like more information about this amazing pet door flap, you can read all about it in our Endura Flap™ section.

Incidentally, if you've already got a flap that looks like the one at the right, some cleaning and UV protectant will go a long way to making the best of what you have. Here are the products we recommend for that purpose.