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What's the best dog door? Many a pet owner has pondered this question while weighing the pros and cons of installing one in the first place. The upside is obvious: Dog doors free us from the hassle of having to open the door every time Fido feels like heading outside (provided you have a fenced-in yard, of course). But the downside is pretty clear, too: You now have a huge hole in your door (or wall), where inclement weather or random critters might intrude.
"The most common objections to pet doors are about security — people don't want other animals, people, or extreme weather getting in," says Jason Hart of PetSafe, a manufacturer of pet doors. "They also don't want to damage their house by knocking a big hole in the wall or door."
But whatever your concerns, rest assured: Pet door manufacturers have come up with solutions for dog door haters' most vehement objections.
"Of course, there's no one product that will satisfy everyone's needs, but there's now a lot of diversity and solutions for everyone," says Scott Mullikin of Petdoors.com.
So if you're considering installing a dog door, read on to determine the best dog door for your home and for your beloved pets.
Best Dog Door for the Budget-Conscious
The OxGord Dog Cat Flap Door
Pros: Simple flaps are the most common and cheapest of the lot; you'll pay as little as $9.95 for the OxGord Dog Cat Flap Door.
Cons: Brave intruders can still get in or out, and while these work well in states with moderate weather, "People who live in places like Arizona or Minnesota are going to want more insulation," according to Hart. Also, a hole in your wall or door is necessary for installation.
Best Dog Door for Bad Weather
The PetSafe Extreme Weather Energy Efficient Pet Door
Pros: "Energy-efficient pet doors are one of today's biggest trends," says Mullikin, explaining that manufacturers are now using much better materials than that old, yellow vinyl flap you've seen hanging around. Some brands use numerous flaps for better insulation, like the PetSafe Extreme Weather Energy Efficient Pet Door ($49.95 - $99.95, depending on size).
Cons: Again, there's that issue of the hole in the wall, and there is no easy way to keep unwanted varmints out. Also, some skittish pets are afraid of multiple flaps.
Best Dog Door to Keep Intruders Out
This Sure Flap Microchip Pet Door is activated by a microchip on your pet's collar.
Pros: Those pet owners who pony up the dough for these think they're the greatest inventions since the Internet. The door only opens when your pet, wearing a small device on its collar, approaches the door, and it closes after the pet is safely inside or out. This is the only type of pet door that successfully keeps out intruders, whether of the two- or four-legged variety. Prices can be below $150 for the SureFlap Microchip Pet Door.
Cons: Since it needs power, it will stop working if your electricity goes out or the batteries die. Experts note that the battery-operated ones may be preferable for this reason, given that they give you ample warning before running out of juice.
Best Dog Door That Doesn't Require a Hole in the Door/Wall
The sliding door insert pet door is ideal for renters and others who don't want to knock a hole in their door or wall.
Pros: Woohoo! They've finally come up with a pet door that requires zero demolition. For this reason, patio panel pet doors — floor-to-ceiling panels that fit into your sliding door — are ideal for renters. And you can get the simple flap variety, or the fancier insulated and electronic opening models. The PetSafe Freedom Aluminum Patio Panel Sliding Glass Pet Door will run you $107.
Cons: Having a tall panel at the end of your sliding glass door might detract from your decor, and it will restrict human access if your sliding door is narrow.
Best Dog Door for the Design-Conscious
This PETio Door is expensive, but it looks good.
Pros: The fanciest of all pet doors are the sliding or French doors with pet doors built right in. They look very chic and intentional — not at all like an add-on or afterthought. You can buy sliding glass doors already built, such as the PETiO DOOR Vinyl Slider, for right around $2,000, or you can have them custom-made by people like the Pet Door Guys, whose prices start at $800.
Cons: If you don't have a large, low window or glass door, you're out of luck. And customization can raise the price considerably. Otherwise, we think they're gorgeous!
This custom "in-the glass" pet door looks even better!
By: Lisa Johnson Mandell
Want more information on living with pets in your home? Get tips here.