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The most common are "General Purpose" models intended to adapt to virtually any sliding glass door. They normally come in a variety of sizes and may be "spring-loaded" for easy put-in and take-out or they may be toe-nailed in your track. The "spring-loads" are the most popular and common.
In recent years vinyl framed sliding glass doors have become much more common and there are doggie doors for sliding glass doors designed specifically for that situation. We suggest starting with these and then moving to a general purpose type if there is some feature missing or if it doesn't seem to meet your needs.
Finally, there are a few magnetic-operated or motorized panels that may be used to control access. Your pet may come and go but intruders are kept out. You might also want this type if you're trying to let the dog out but keep a cat or other animal in.
There are three that are most important:
In choosing a pet patio door it is vital to know that your track height is in the adjustment range of the door you have chosen.
Secondly, you must be sure that the flap size and step-over is appropriate for your pet.
Finally you need to be sure that you'll have room to walk out yourself if you have a pet patio panel in place! If not, and you'd still like to use your patio door, take a look at the through the glass category page.
As well, there are quite a few other details that might be important for you to think about in purchasing any panel pet door. Begin with key points to get a quick overview of the most important issues. Then study the comparison chart and read the information on the patio panel FAQ page which covers the fine points of sliding dog doors.
These pet doors for sliding glass doors aren't only for dogs. In fact, they may be a better choice for cats than the ones intended specifically for cats! The reason is that each manufacturer generally offers a "Small" size and the flaps are all flexible and, therefore, safer than rigid "cat flaps".
Measure the height of your sliding glass door track
Don't just assume that 'it's standard' as they do vary. Using a ruler, measure inside the track, very top to very bottom (see the illustration in the patio panel FAQ section). Always compare your track height to the adjustment ranges shown for the various pet doors. Endura Flap offers custom heights for odd-sized sliders and windows. Most others don't.
Determine how wide the flap needs to be
Open your sliding glass door wide enough for your pet to come through comfortably. Allow room for growth as needed. There's your minimum width. Don't buy a flap that isn't at least that wide.
Determine the flap height and step-over dimensions you need
Ideally, the top of the flap will be at least as tall as the top of the pet at his 'withers' (top of his shoulders). That way he doesn't have to crouch to use the pet door. The 'step-over' dimension is the height of the bottom of the flap above the base of the pet door. That's how much he has to step over.
So, flap height plus step-over is the height of the top of the flap.
Generally, the lower the step-over tthe better. Especially when your pet is older or arthritic. So you might prefer a flap 17" tall with a 3" step-over to one with a 15" height and 5" step-over. Both reach 20" at the top, but the taller flap yields a lower step-over.
More flap and less step-over can also be helpful if you've got a small pet that needs to share with a larger one.
A pet door that incorporates a user adjustable step-over makes it simpler and offers more flexibility for the future. These are only available with Endura Flap pet panels.
Check the color of your framing
Most brands are available in white, satin (aluminum color) or bronze (very dark brown). You can paint any of these to get a different color if you wish but the easiest to paint is the white. Check with your local paint shop for primer and paint recommendations.
See if you have dual-pane glass
You probably do and, unless you're in a Very temperate climate area, you'll want to choose a pet door that has dual-pane glass also. You can tell by placing a finger on both sides of your glass. If they look like they're touching, you have single pane. If they stop about 1/2" apart, you have dual pane.
If you want dual-pane glass, how about Low "E" also?
This coating on the inside of dual pane glass units performs much better than regular glass in insulating your home.
Are you looking for high wind resistance--so you want higher magnet strength on the flap--or are you planning to share a larger flap between a big dog and a smaller dog or cat--so you may need less resistance, especially at the bottom of the flap?
A Variable Magnet Strength Flap will give you enormous flexibility from extremely wind resistant to very easy to push and everywhere in between. Look for this feature if you think you may have a need. Pet
See if you've got vinyl frames
There is more standardization in the newer vinyl framed panel doors. Some patio pet doors are manufactured exclusively for this application.
Worried about bugs flying in between the patio pet door and the screen?
Check out the Bug Warden. If you ever keep your sliding glass door open for ventilation, this is a 'must' product.
Q: How will I lock up my house with the installed sliding door doggie door in place?
A: There are numerous methods for locking your house when using a pet door panel or cat door for sliding glass door:
1. Those panel pet doors designed for a semi-permanent installation only will have a lock built into the pet door that you will use instead of the lock on your sliding glass door. That lock will engage a bracket mounted on your sliding glass door above your existing lock and locks the sliding door to the pet door. This system requires that the pet door be fastened semi-permanently in place. The panels that use this method would be:
|PetSafe Freedom||Hale Standard Panel|
2. A second approach is to use a pin lock, c-clamp lock or dead-bolt lock to lock the glass door against the pet door. These can be used for both temporary and semi-permanent types of installations and are extremely effective. Note that pin locks are most readily used when the sliding panel is on the inside track. If it is on the outside track (an uncommon situation), it may be easier to install a threshold mount dead-bolt type lock. These are available from us in the Flaps and Parts->Accessories section but also in any local hardware.
4. A great idea is to use a 'Charley Bar'. The Charley Bar mounts behind the sliding glass door on the jamb and locks the sliding glass door against the pet door. You don't need a pet door to use a Charley Bar. They're frequently used just to improve the security of a sliding glass door. When used with a pet door, the Charley Bar has an important added benefit. The pressure applied is near the center of the sliding glass door which results in more even pressure between the sliding door and the pet door. This, in turn, helps make a tighter seal between the two and reduces the chance of a leak.
How to Install a Charley Bar (Video)
Q: My sliding glass door has 2 sliding doors. Do you have any patio panel pet door inserts that will work for this type of door?
A: Depending on the track setup we have had customers install the Thermo Panel 3e in this type of sliding door. However, a good way to install them is to move one of your sliding glass doors over offsetting it. Then install that sliding glass door pet door and make the offset slider stationary, serving as the wall.
Q: Will the aluminum panel fit with my vinyl slider track?
A: Sometimes the aluminum panels are not as wide as the tracks on the vinyl sliders, as typically they tend to be about 7/8" to 1" in thickness. In some cases customers have actually shimmed in at the top and bottom to make up for any wiggle room in front or behind the panel. Or they have toe-nailed the panel in, where the screws are installed at an angle to go through the panel and into the track, making the installation more semi-permanent. In other cases the doors have fit in just fine and been perfectly stable, even if the facing of the frames are not flush with each when viewed from the interior of the house, it is merely an aesthetic issue. Many customer have to go with the aluminum sliders simply because the doors specifically for vinyl have very limited flap dimensions and height ranges available.
Q: What step-over do I want?
A: 'Step-Over' is the height that the flap is raised above the ground. So a Bassett Hound and a Doberman may both be able to use a typical 'large' size flap but only if the 'step-over' is set low for the Bassett and higher for the Dobe. The rule is that you want the step-over to be tall enough to get the top of the flap at least as tall as the height of the pet at the top of his shoulder (we say at least an inch above is preferred). So, if you are using a 10"x15" flap for a dog standing 22" at the withers, you'd like the step-over to be at least 7".
But that isn't the end of the story. What happens when the dog gets older or arthritic and has trouble stepping over 7"? Then you'll wish you had bought a taller flap with a lower step-over!
So one thing to look for in a flap is 'aspect ratio' which is the ratio of the height to the width. Taller aspect ratio flaps allow for lower step-overs for a given width.
A doggy door with an adjustable step over range has removable cross pieces above and below the flap that can be rearranged based upon whether or not you want your step over raised or lowered, and all you would need is a Phillips head screwdriver. The patented user adjustable step-over feature in the Thermo Panel 3e or Quick Panel 3 provides great flexibility both now and in the future. What if your tall dog goes to the Rainbow Bridge and you replace him with a shorter one (from the local shelter, of course!)? Now the little guy can't manage the step-over that was easy for the big guy. But you can simply lower the step-over! Neat!
You can simply buy a larger size in a different brand, of course, to get more flap height. But then you'll be getting more width than you need in addition to the height. Major disadvantages of excess width include loss of space in the opening for people use and additional cost.
When measuring for the proper rise, take a look at the image. You want the top of the pet door at least 1" above the tallest point of the back, in other words the top of the flap should be C+1". Take a look at our measure your pet page for more info!
Q: How do I know the correct track position to install the panel pet door in?
A: Many choose to install their sliding glass pet door in the glass track against the sliding door jamb. Then the sliding glass door opens and closes against it. The pet door is always stationary.
Some choose an outside screen track. In that case, we suggest you use a 'spring-load' (no tools installation) type that is particularly thin such as the Ideal Fast Fit. If the glass track height and screen track height are close enough in width, you may be able to move the sliding door pet door from one another as the weather dictates.
Please notice that the thickness of the pet door will not be the same as the thickness of your track. There are too many track widths to make a separate panel for each one and so no manufacturer does. They are all built on the 'thin' side in order to make it compatible with any sliding door track. Properly installed, this fact is not noticeable.
The vinyl-framed pet doors will be thicker to more nearly match vinyl-framed sliding glass doors.
Q: With the installation of my new Sliding Glass Door Patio Panel, the total width of walking space decreases with the panel in place, how do I make sure that I will still have enough room to walk through?
A: After fitting your pet, be sure the remaining opening in your sliding door fits you. If it's tight and this situation displeases you, look for a dog door sliding glass door with a higher aspect ratio for the flap. For example, why get a 14" x 23" flap if your pet can easily use a 12" x 23"? You just saved two inches. Or you can put a pet door directly through the glass of your sliding glass door: See Pet Doors "Through The Glass" Category Page..
Q: Does PetDoors.com have anything for my newer vinyl framed sliding glass door?
A: A newer type of dog door for sliding door are built specifically for installation in vinyl framed sliding glass door tracks. We think they're a great choice because, with vinyl frames themselves, they look more like they "belong" and will generally engage with the lock on your sliding glass door.
However, there are disadvantages as well. They're relatively hard to install, they're not easily removable, and they come in a very limited range of flap sizes and 'step-over' heights. Based on our customer experience we find some prefer the vinyl specific option, while others have decided on the more general-purpose dog doors for sliding glass doors to get a broader range of feature choices. The best two pet panels recommended specifically for vinyl sliding doors would be:
|Ideal VIP Panel||Ideal VPP Panel|
Q: Do I want a 'temporary' or a 'semi-permanent' pet door installed?
A: A temporary installation doggie door for sliding glass door may be put in and taken out again easily. This would be the better option if you do not want the panel to be located in one position all the time. For example, you may wish to use the panel only during warm weather or only when you are at home. Having a temporary panel presents a flexible solution.
A semi-permanent pet door for sliding glass door, on the other hand, must be fastened into the track. The panel must be fastened because the manufacturer has put a lock on the pet door which mates to a bracket on the sliding glass door. For that lock to work, the panel must be fastened in place.
On top of those two options there is a group of pet doors for sliding doors that are neither a temporary install nor a semi-permanent install, but somewhere in between. That is, they may require tools to set up but are not fastened into your track.
If a semi-permanent install is desired and your sliding glass door uses an alarm, it is possible to install the panel on the side of the stationary half of the sliding glass door. This type of installation may help avoid needing to reset your alarm system. Keep in mind that every sliding glass door's stationary panel is different, so moving and reinstalling tactics vary and does not have one specific answer that would suffice.
Another installation possibility that is commonly overlooked, is that all pet doors that are designed for temporary installation may be made semi-permanent by fastening them into the track with sheet metal screws. A temporary type panel has the broadest range of installation choices.
Q: Will bugs be able to come through the doorway, between the sliding glass door doggie door and sliding screen door?
A: You can still get ventilation with a glass track installation by opening the sliding glass door and bringing the screen up even with the pet door. But how do you stop a bug from flying in between the screen and the pet panel?
The best solution to this problem is the Bug Warden which was specifically designed by a Southern California engineer. These can be purchased individually and are sometimes available at a discount with the purchase of selected sliding glass pet doors.
The Dreaded "Bug Gap"
A: Measure the inside of the track with measuring tape or a ruler from the deepest part up inside the top track and down into the deepest part down inside the bottom track. Don't assume that it's a "standard" size track, it's very important to have accurate measurements. Always compare your track height to adjustment ranges shown for the various dog doors. Endura Flap offers custom heights for odd-sized sliders and windows. Hale panels require a slightly different measuring method (Standard and Omni panel), these products require you to measure from deepest part of the bottom track up to the track wall, or first feature you touch, when measuring to the top of the track.
Measuring for a Patio Panel
Measuring for a Hale Standard/Omni Panel
Q: At which height over 74 3/4" would a sliding door dog door insert need to be custom?
A: 80 ¼” is the maximum height of the more standard sizes. Anything between 80 ¼” - 93 1/4”, would need to be a custom order. Furthermore, there is a tall height range, and anything above the maximum of the tall height range which is 96 ¼” will need to be custom ordered.
Q: Can I return a doggy door for sliding glass door after purchase?
A: Yes, our regular return policy applies to all sliding glass patio doors except custom doors. However, be aware that there are 2 specific situations that would make the return more difficult:
First, a common return issue presents itself if, upon your installation of your doggy door for sliding glass door you apply the weather-strip to the edge of the panel, and soon after realize you want to return the product. This creates a considerable amount of labor in manufacturing in order to fully remove that weather-strip. In some cases, the panel must be rebuilt completely. All these labor costs will be deducted from your refund or; if the damage is severe enough the return may not be accepted at all.
Q: Does PetDoors.com have a door option if my current sliding glass door is a dual pane/insulated glass door?
A: If your sliding glass door is dual paned/insulated you may be glad to know that PetDoors has a number of dog doors for glass doors available for your specific situation. A few options available offer a low "E" coating for even better performance. The low “E” feature is especially important in extreme weathers as it keeps the heat from escaping the house on a cold, snowy day and visa versa; it keeps the cool air in on a hot sunny day. Also, low outside temperatures combined with moist, warm air inside can result in condensation on the inside of any glass window including that in a dog door for sliding glass door. Dual pane, low "E" glass can greatly reduce or eliminate this problem. Three great options, for dual pane/low “E” coating doors, PetDoors can provide for you would be:
|Thermo Panel 3e||Hale Standard Panel||Hale Omni Panel|
In more temperate climates, single pane glass may be perfectly adequate. After all, the area of the glass in a pet door is pretty small and won't make much difference in mild climates. Three other options for single pane glass doors are:
|Quick Panel 3||Ideal Fast Fit Panel||Petsafe Freedom Panel|
Q: I am trying to decide between an Aluminum panel and Vinyl panel, what are a few major differences in the two?
A: When considering the two options, we recommend basing the decision on the type of climate you are living in, and also whether or not you want the panel to be semi-permanent or temporary. The aluminum option would be better in a warmer climate, where Vinyl is better in colder climates because aluminum creates condensation on the door from the cold climate. On the other hand, Aluminum would be the better option if your major concern is the ease of removability. The Vinyl option would be a semi-permanent installation and less easy to remove. Also with the vinyl your track has to be 1-½” - 1-¾”, and the flap sizes are fairly restrictive so for larger pets the aluminum might be the only option.
Q: What kind of panel would I need to install for a sliding window location?
A: A sideways sliding window is just like a sliding glass door but shorter. So you'll be purchasing a panel pet door built 'custom height undersize'.
Two things to remember:
First, you must measure the width of your window track. It may not be wide enough to accept the panel. If your measurement of the track is less than 1" call our customer service department with an exact measurement to consult about this.
Secondly, the height you are specifying will be unusual enough that it must be a final sale--no return after manufacture. You will find these undersized units on the For Windows category page.
Custom height orders must be in writing, so the easiest way is to order directly from the web site.
If your window slides up and down then you'll want a pet door for a sash window which is designed for that specific window type. A number of models are available at the For Windows category page.
|A Pet Door Designed for a Sash Window||A Thermo Panel 3e built Custom Height Undersize to fit a sideways sliding window|
Q: Under which height for a sliding dog door would it need to be custom?
A: If your height measurement is less than 74 3/4" then you would need to order a custom dog door sliding glass.
Q: What is the potential problem with getting a dog door with the range 74 3/4"-77 3/4" for a track height of 74 3/4"?
A: Since 74 3/4" is the actual height of your track, the pet patio door would probably barely fit or not fit as it must compress enough so that you can get it up and over the track walls of your sliding door during installation. The dog door should be a little shorter to assure that you can compress the top enough to allow you to lift it into the track for installation. If you're having this problem with the Ideal or Endura Flap models, you can trim the aluminum flanges on the top. Endura Flap models can be trimmed up to ¾” while Ideal Fast Fit models can be trimmed up to 1”
Q: How do I tell if my sliding glass door is dual-pane or single pane?
A: Open your slider and put a finger on both sides of the glass. If your fingers look like they're touching, you have single pane glass. If they stop about 1/2" apart, you have dual pane glass. You probably won't be able to tell if you have a low "E" coating, though you may see a slight tint that would give it away. To the right is an example of what a dual pane/low “E” coating door would look like, so you can better determine what type of door you own.
Q: Do I need an electronic pet door for my patio or will a regular manual one do?
A: Generally, we recommend that if you do not have a specific reason to get an electronic sliding pet door then you should get a regular manual one. There is less that could go wrong as far a possible malfunctioning. However, if you've got a stray cat problem or a raccoon problem, you'll need an electronic patio panel which would keep all unwanted animals out. Another aspect to think about is if your dog or cat is infirm or very old, one of the motorized panels that allows them in and out freely without them needing to push a flap might be the ticket to a comfortable and easy process for your pet.
Q: What height adjustment ranges and trim colors are available?
A: Doggy door for sliding glass door manufacturers usually offer white, bronze (a very dark brown that is almost black looking, especially in room light) and brushed aluminum. In some cases the offering is white only as with the vinyl pet doors and sometimes there may be an additional color like tan or black, depending on brand and model type.
Dog doors for sliders are offered in various height adjustment ranges and the single most important problem is to be sure that your track height is in the adjustment range of the sliding glass door dog door you're considering. You measure inside the sliding glass door track, the very top to the very bottom. When measuring, don't do it all at once. If you do, the top of the tape will be curving and hard to read where it ends. Instead, measure inside the top track down to a convenient height--say 2 feet--and make a pencil line. Then measure up from the bottom track to that line and add. This method is extremely accurate. Height adjustment ranges will be shown on the product page for each of these sliding door dog doors.
A NOTE OF CAUTION when measuring your track height:
Even though your measurement falls within the adjustment range of the sliding glass doggie door you have chosen, you could still have a problem if you are at the shorter end of that range. You will probably require some clearance to get the pet door up and over the track wall at the bottom and into the track!
You should measure the height of the lowest track wall at the bottom (usually the outside). You'll need enough compression to clear that height. Please call our customer service department if you have any question about this. Some pet door patio dog door have special provision for decreasing or increasing the adjustment range a small amount (about 3/4") on the job site anti-whoops!. This feature can save having to ship the pet door back in case of a small measurement error.
Q: What can I use if my sliding glass door doesn't have a track?
Q: Besides the material it's made from what makes vinyl framing different from aluminum?
A: Vinyl framing insulates better than conventional metal framing and you won't get condensation from cold weather. It will also match your existing vinyl sliding glass door, creating a more holistic and professional look.
Q: How do I decide which direction my slider closes?
A: This needs to be done while you are on the inside of the house looking out. You do need to specify whether your slider closes to the left or to the right so that they can mount the lock correctly.