Installing a pet door can save your sanity! Pet owners are all familiar with the routine. The cute face whining at the door that says “Let me out, so I can come back in again!” Open door. Let dog out. Then, two seconds later, it’s the reverse. Lather, rinse, repeat. All day long. This activity is especially true if you have a puppy.
Have you ever considered installing a pet door? It could be your salvation. Pet doors allow Fido or Fluffy to come and go at their leisure, and newer models are constructed to be energy efficient and easy to install.
The most important thing to consider when installing a pet door is the size of your pet. Doors that are too small or installed too high or too low can cause your pet to contort themselves. Over time, this can lead to debilitating back and hip problems.
Options When Installing a Pet Door
When it comes to installing pet doors, you have three options. You can install a pet door through doors (screen doors too) through walls, or through garage doors. When pet doors first came on the market, you had to be careful about sealing the structure the door was passing through, to keep out the elements and prevent rot. But products improve over time and most pet doors today are self-framing, so there are a lot fewer problems. All you need after the door is installed, is add some caulking to weatherproof around your pet door, to protect door or wall surrounding the door.
The Best Location for Installing a Pet Door
Installing a pet door that goes through a door is convenient because you can limit the dirt and moisture pets can track in. Since it’s already an entryway, you likely you have floor mats already there. The downside is that installing a pet door into a larger door is a permanent decision. Once you cut into a door, the door is basically ruined and you'll need to buy and install a replacement door when you want to get rid of the pet door.
This often isn't a problem until you're selling your home. My handyman business didn't get many calls for this project but when there's a buyer's market, don't be surprised if the buyers ask you (the seller) to take care of replacing the door before ownership changes hands … and please don't leave it to the day before the closing (common problem for a handyman business).
Installing a pet door through a wall doesn’t have to be permanent. If you ever have to remove the pet door, the wall can be patched so that the wall looks brand new. A pet door that goes through the wall can also be more energy efficient as you can insulate around the frame more effectively.
Installing a pet door in an overhead garage door can be done, but requires a few more considerations. You have to make sure that the lowest panel of your garage door can accommodate a pet door big enough for your pet. You also need to be sure that the profile of the door (distance the pet door protrudes from the outside surface of the garage door), doesn’t interfere with the raising and lowering of the garage door. It is possible that your pet’s size and/or the size of your garage door, or structure of your garage might prohibit you from installing a pet door in your garage door.
It’s possible that a pet door could impact your homeowner's or renter’s insurance, especially if a pet door is installed in a fire door. Do your homework and check with your insurance agent BEFORE you install a pet door of any kind.
Before Installing a Pet Door Evaluate the Choices
Do you want a door with a single flap (typically only on the inside) or double flaps (one on the inside and one on the outside)? Your choice will depend on budget and how much insulation you need. If you live in colder parts of the country, you definitely want a door with two flaps. Two flaps will create a dead air space, and manufacturers say that significantly increases the insulation factor.
When looking at dog doors, the feature set ranges from the basic – a self framing mount with flaps on either side – to the full-featured pet door that includes alarms, sensors and security features. For example, some doors come with an alarm that can be set to chime every time your pet comes in or out. Some allow for settings that only allow the animal to travel one way or the other (in vs. out). The fanciest of doors have a sensor that is activated by a small ultra-sonic transponder mounted on your dog’s collar. The sliding door opens as the animal approaches the door. This is one way to keep unwanted visitors out of your home.
Do your homework before installing a pet door. Once you do, you and your pet will enjoy the freedom, safety and convenience of your pet door for years to come, especially when it's raining or cold outside.