Are Pet Doors Safe?

Your dog or cat loves being outside. However, you work during the day and aren't able to let your pet out as much as you'd like. So, you're thinking of investing in a pet door so that your dog or cat can come and go as they please, taking time outside to soak in the sun, go to the bathroom, and explore your backyard.

cat going through cat flap
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Before you install your pet door for your dog or cat, you want to ensure that no other animal or even a human could potentially enter your home. You want to be a smart and responsible cat or dog owner, and guarantee that your pet will be able to get inside and not be trapped outdoors if you aren't home.

Here's the scoop on pet doors and whether or not they are safe to install in your house.

Are pet doors safe?

Pet doors are usually safe. The only time you'll have to worry is if your backyard is not secure and you have a pet door large enough where a burglar could slip in. Keep in mind, though, that if a burglar sees a large pet door, he knows a large dog is likely inside, which could scare him off. Always take precautions like ensuring your gate is closed, placing the pet door somewhere it can't be seen from the street, installing security cameras, and putting in a security system, such as Ring or ADT, to ward off any home intruders.

If you are going away and you want to seal your pet door, you can buy a security pet door to go over it. You can also purchase a high-tech security pet door that reads your pets' microchips and only lets them through, so stray animals or wild animals can't come into your home that way.

You'll also need to make sure your backyard isn't attracting wild animals in the first place. Do you leave food outside? Is your garbage by your pet door? Calling a pest control expert could help you determine how to make your outdoor space safer.

dog poking head through dog door
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Finding the right pet door

If you have a small dog or a small cat, make sure the door is not too big for them. Measure your dog's width and height prior to purchasing anything. Generally, a small pet door is for pets up to 15 lbs., a medium one is for pets up to 40 pounds, a large one is for pets up to 100 pounds, and an extra large one is for pets that are 200 pounds and up.

You may be concerned about the elements from outside coming inside. If you live in a climate that tends to get cold and rainy or it snows a lot, then get a weather-resistant pet door with multiple magnetic seals, materials that can tolerate low temperatures, and double flaps.

If you're renting, you can't cut a hole in your door, so consider installing a sliding glass pet door or getting a window pet door your dog or cat can easily get out of. You can also install a pet door on a wall. Perhaps you could easily repair the wall upon leaving your rental.

If you have two pets of vastly different sizes, you should invest in two different doors, since the door should always be just slightly bigger than your pet. Your pet may get hurt if it's the wrong size, which is the last thing you want.

Before purchasing a pet door, make sure you read the reviews and consult your veterinarian if you have any questions. To guarantee that it's installed properly, consider hiring a handyperson to help you put it in. You don't want to risk it coming off and doing damage to your pet.

cat going through cat door
credit: Akimasa Harada/Moment/GettyImages

Conclusion

Pet doors are generally safe, but there are things you can do to make them safer, such as having a handyperson install it for you, placing it where it isn't visible from the outside, and making sure your gate is always secured.