How to Choose the Right Pet Door for Your Home

Tips and tricks for picking the best doors for your four legged friends.

Guest Post by Andrea Davis

Installing a pet door in your home can remove a little hassle from your daily life by allowing your pet to come and go freely. So how do you choose the right pet door for your home? Here are a few steps that will guide you through the process:

Step 1: Decide on a Budget

Like any other purchase, there are going to be varying costs associated with a pet door. Are you going to hire a pro or install the door yourself? If you’re handy around the house, you can probably handle cutting the opening in a door. It’s always a good idea to call a pro to handle in-wall installations — even if you have the experience. Accidentally cutting wires, pipes or important structural features can severely damage your home.

Keep in mind that pet doors are going to range in price from as low as $30 for the traditional flap and smaller plastic door models, to upwards of $600 for larger doors and electronic/magnetic models.

Step 2: Choose a Location

Many homeowners install their pet doors on a patio or mudroom door. There are also in-wall pet doors that are perfect for homeowners with unusual door locations.

Step 3: Pick a Type of Door

Pet doors range from traditional flaps to magnetic or electronic doors. Here’s a brief rundown of your options:

  • Flaps: There are no frills with this option. The flap is made of screen mesh and does not close tightly against the door or side of your home. Your pet uses the door by simply walking through it.
  • Plastic Doors: These models work like a flap, pushing open from either side as your pet comes and goes. The major difference with this model is the rigid design and the ability to lock these in place overnight to prevent other critters from coming in.
  • Magnetic/Electronic Doors: This option requires an electronic dog collar in order to work. As your dog approaches, the door will unlock or even open automatically.

These are the best models when it comes to convenience and safety.

Step 4: Measure Your Pet

To find the right door size, measure your dog’s width around the chest and its height from the top of the shoulders to the bottom of the chest or belly. With this figure in mind, add one to two inches to each measurement to find the proper door size. Keep in mind that the size of door you purchase can have an impact on its placement. If you have a large dog, there may not be a pet door big enough for certain types of storm doors or single-door patio doors.

Step 5: Don’t Just Focus on Your Pet

There are additional pitfalls that come from the convenience of installing a pet door in your home. Dog doors make it difficult to control the movement of your dog, which is a bad thing if your pet is sick or dirty. Additionally, a dog door could give unwanted animals access to your home. Larger dog doors can also cause problems for your home’s energy efficiency.

Andrea Davis is the editor at HomeAdvisor, which connects homeowners with home improvement professionals in their area for free. Connect with Andrea on Google+

Lindsay is the the Senior Manager of Media Engagement for Coldwell Banker Real Estate and manages the brand’s media and social media department. She is also a licensed real estate professional. In 2017, she was named a top 20 social influencer in the real estate industry in the annual Swanepoel 200 power rankings.

Lindsay lives in Livingston, NJ with her college sweetheart and now husband Joe and recently welcomed another Joe into her life as she became a mom in June 2016. Lindsay and her two Joes love spending their time playing with their cat Rory, watching sports and vacationing in Cape Cod.

4 Comments

  1. Shad Morris
    December 1, 2016

    Since we just adopted a dog, we were thinking about getting a pet door to help us out a little. I really like that you say to come up with a budget, and decide if you are going to have a professional do it. Since we don’t know much about them, we might have to think about that.

    Reply
    • Lindsay Listanski
      December 2, 2016

      So glad our tip helped! Best!!

      Reply
  2. Luke Smith
    December 8, 2016

    Thanks for pointing out the importance of focusing on more than just your pet. I can imagine it would be quite surprising to come home and see an animal you didn’t recognize strolling around your house, so taking other factors into account would definitely be important as well. I would think that a vendor of pet doors could give you some good advice on the best ways to prevent potential pitfalls like this one.

    Reply
  3. Douglas Law
    March 27, 2017

    Pet doors are awesome!
    However, you have to remember to factor in security consideration. Even out here in Claremont California, where crime is very low, there have been incidents of thieves, burglars (or even their little, underage accomplices) coming into homes through pet doors.
    I would recommend the magnetic versions of pet doors, and make sure you beef up your security with cameras or other measures when you install one.
    CBT&C Claremont

    Reply

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