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September 12, 2017 > Pet doors: Your new best friend

Pet doors: Your new best friend

By David R. Newman

Are you tired of having to get up to let your dog or cat outside? Do you worry about what to do with your pet when you go on vacation? Are you tired of paying for the expense of a dog walker? If these questions strike a chord, it may be time for you to invest in a pet door which can provide unparalleled freedom and happiness for both owner and pet alike.

As legend has it, Sir Isaac Newton is accredited with inventing the pet door. He allegedly cut two holes in the wall: one for his adult cat and a smaller one for the kittens. Imagine his surprise (and embarrassment) when the kittens followed their mother through the same hole! Of course, modern pet doors are much more than a hole in the wall (or door). Many have highly durable plastic or aluminum frames with vinyl flaps, which help keep out the wind, rain, and bugs while keeping the heat or cool air in.

Steven Lieberman of Pet Independence has been selling and installing pet doors since 2011. He says, ÒAnyone whoÕs already had a pet door, if they move, they set one up almost immediately because it makes life so much easier. If you have an active life, you donÕt have to worry if a meeting goes longer or take your kids someplace because your pets will have access to go outside and relieve themselves. Also, dogs like to go out all the time, if they hear a squirrel for example, but then theyÕre back in two minutes, then back out againÉ and on and on. After a while it becomes a big pain in the butt for the owner.Ó

A pet door can also provide an escape route in the event of a fire. And for those pet owners who use dog-walking services to give their dog a break during the day, a pet door can be a less costly alternative. It can also cut down on your energy bill, since every time you open your door to let your pet in or out, you break the seal on your homeÕs climate control, letting heat or cool air escape.

A basic pet door can be found for $20 Ð $100 at places like PetSmart, Target, or Home Depot, but be aware of that age-old adage Òyou get what you pay for.Ó Cynthia Herrera of, an online distributor of pet doors (they also manufacture the EnduraFlap brand), says, ÒA lot of inexpensive doors come with a vinyl flap, which can shrink in extreme heat or cold and become discolored. Even the ones touted as Ôlong lasting.Õ That creates space in the opening where bugs and the weather can come in.Ó

Also, many lower end pet door manufacturers often change their models, so obtaining replacement parts could become a challenge. The lifetime of your pet door can also depend on your petÕs personality. An active pet who runs a lot will put more wear and tear on it. And some dogs and cats like to scratch at the frame or bite the flap. Higher end models, which can range from $200 Ð $600, often come with double flaps, magnets that help seal the door, with frames made of aluminum or some other highly durable material. Most also come with security covers which can be locked into place on the interior of the door. Electronic models, geared towards cats and small dogs, are activated by your petÕs microchip or collar sensor, especially helpful when trying to keep your other pets inside, or when trying to prevent varmints from entering.

Where you place your pet door is another important consideration, and varies greatly depending on the house layout and how you use your home. The most common and economical solution is to install one in a standard wood or fiberglass door that leads out to the backyard. Sometimes homeowners replace the entire door with a new door that includes a pet door. This way, when they move, they can put the original door back. Wall units are another solution, but often require an exterior platform or ramp to be constructed to account for the height difference from exterior ground to floor level.

Sliding glass doors are a popular location as well. Again, owners can replace the entire glass pane with an insert that includes a pet door (do not try to cut a hole in a sliding door as they are made of tempered glass and will shatter!), or they can install an insert into the track. This is a vertical glass panel with a pet door at the bottom that runs the height of the door and affixes to the frame. The downside to this option is the decreased space for the door opening.

Wherever you place your pet door, itÕs very important to get the right size opening for your pet. A key measurement is from their front feet to the top of their shoulders. Herrera suggests making a cardboard cutout to test out on your pet, ensuring that there is enough room from top to bottom and side to side. You also need to take into consideration the height of the step over (the lower area between the floor and bottom of pet door), especially with multiple pets. Smaller or elderly dogs may struggle where larger dogs just gallop right over.

The freedom and happiness provided by a pet door often far outweigh the cost and effort of installation. They really are the catÕs meow.

For more information, contact Pet Independence at (510) 999-7924 or visit, and or call them at (800) 826-2871.

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