Three best pet doors
It's natural that cats and dogs want to spend time outdoors, but stopping what you're doing to let them in and out can be frustrating. Whether you have a cat who wants to roam the neighborhood or a dog who loves to enjoy time in your fenced yard, a pet door gives your pet some extra freedom to come and go as they please.
Our favorite pet door is from Ideal Pet Products. We love the double-flap design: it provides insulation and helps prevent heat loss in your home through the pet door.
Considerations when choosing pet doors
Dog doors vs. cat doors
First off, decide whether you need a dog door or a cat door. The main difference is dog doors tend to be larger and come in a wider range of sizes to accommodate canines large and small. Cat doors may have a softer flap and a gentler closure since felines aren't as strong as dogs and may have trouble pushing through a heavy door.
Door-mounted vs. wall-mounted
The vast majority of people mount pet doors into a door leading into the yard, but in some cases this isn't possible. You can buy wall-mounted pet doors that install straight into the wall of your house. Some pet doors can be wall mounted if you buy a wall mounting kit, but it doesn't generally come included. You can also find a small number of pet doors that attach to screen doors or fit into sliding patio doors.
The door or flap of a pet door is usually made from soft or hard plastic. Soft plastic pet doors are easier for pets to push through, especially small or nervous pets, but they're less secure and often provide poor insulation. Hard plastic flaps are more sturdy and often have better locking mechanisms, but they may discourage some pets from using the door and are more expensive.
Some pet doors include tags that fit on your pet's collar and only let pets in who are wearing these tags. This is a handy feature if you're worried about other neighborhood pets -- or even wildlife -- entering your home through your pet door. However, if your pet is prone to losing their collar, they could get locked out.
"Only in" mode
Some pet doors have an "only in" mode, which lets pets in from outdoors but not back out again. This is great for cats who come home late and who you'd rather didn't have access to the outside world all night.
Pet doors range in price from as little as $15 to $20 for extremely basic versions all the way up to $400 or $500 for large, high-tech models. You don't need to pay more than $50 to $150 for a mid-range pet door depending on the size and features.
Q. Can I install a pet door myself?
A. You need to make a hole in your door or wall to install a pet door, so it's usually a job for an expert. The exception is if you're replacing an existing pet door with a new one of the same size -- this is generally simple enough to do alone.
Q. Can you find pet doors with timers?
A. Yes, some pet doors have timers so they automatically lock at a particular hour. Generally, they lock from the indoors out but not from the outdoors in, so your pet can come back inside if they're out, but can't go outside once they're in. This can stop cats from wandering all night or stop dogs from going outside for a midnight bark and disturbing the neighbors.
Pet doors we recommend
Best of the best: Ideal Pet Products Ruff-Weather Pet Door with Telescoping Frame
Our take: With four sizes, you can find a door to fit any pet, from cats up to large dogs.
What we like: Two vinyl flaps create a layer of insulation in between, it fits a range of door thicknesses, and a wall kit is available.
What we dislike: No lock option.
Best bang for your buck: Cat Mate Large Cat Door
Our take: This sturdy cat door offers great value for the money. The four-way locking option is ideal for feline traffic control.
What we like: The door is large enough to fit all but the biggest cats, as well as some small dogs. Brush strip helps prevent heat loss through the door.
What we dislike: Spring action may discourage nervous cats from pushing their way through.
Choice 3: PetSafe Pet Screen Door
Our take: This simple pet door is designed to snap into screen doors. Not the most durable or high-tech choice, but handy when other pet doors aren't an option.
What we like: It's extremely easy to install, large enough for cats and small dogs, and affordably priced.
What we dislike: It's only suitable for warmer weather since it uses your screen door.
Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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