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How to Install a Pet Door on Any Type of Door

Installing a pet door means more freedom for you and your best friend. Dogs and cats can come and go as they please and you don’t have to get up to help! Pet doors come in many sizes, styles, and can accommodate even large dogs or the most timid of cats. You can install a pet door on an exterior door, outbuilding, or even on the side of your house or basement door with limited effort. Here’s how to install a pet door that will make your fluffy friend happy and comfortable.

How to Install a Pet Door: Getting Started


First things first. Measure the largest of your pets (or estimate how large they will grow to). Puppies and older pets may need special consideration to make sure they're comfortable using the pet door – like making sure the step over isn't too high for their current size, or future limited agility as they age.

Next, decide where to install your pet door. You may need to check local codes or with your HOA, if necessary. It's a good idea to use a door that your pet has easy access to, which leads to an area you don't mind them being in unsupervised. You can even install a series of doors if needed, say from outside into a garage and then from a garage to a laundry or mud room.

  • Double door, no problem: If you have storm or screen doors (typically thinner metal or wood doors outside your main deadbolt doors), you can still install a pet door. With two doors, either consider keeping your interior door open while the pet has "access" to the pet door, or vice versa.
  • Try a wall door: Don't have the right door for a job? You can even install a pet door in your wall. These types of pet doors include two flaps to minimize heat loss in the winter or cool air loss in the summer. These door may require someone with more experience to ensure a clean fit.
  • Limit repeat visits: If you're interested in a one-way pet door that will keep your pet inside after that last trip out at night, a locking option is a great pick. It lets you control the direction the pet door opens, preventing visits outside.


Materials Needed for Your Pet Door Installation


Here are the basic tools needed to complete your pet door installation:

How Big or Small Does Your Pet Door Need to Be?


Measure your pet's height to determine the right pet door size. Measure from the floor to the top of your pets back or shoulders (AKA withers) while they are standing in a normal upright position. You'll also need to note their widest width.

  1. The top of the flap of the pet door should be at least one inch above the height of your pet's shoulders to provide enough clearance.
  2. The bottom of the pet door should be three inches above the bottom of the main door, no more than 1/3 of the pet's height for them to easily step through the flap.
  3. Measure the pet's width to determine the final size of your pet door. This might be the widest point at their shoulders or belly.

Once you pick out a pet door, do a test run with a cardboard version to start training your pet and ensure you have the right size pet door.

Steps to Install Your Pet Door


It’s easiest to install a pet door on a wood or composite exterior door, but you can also install one into a steel or aluminum door, though that will require additional tools. To cut into a metal door, you should use a set of tin snips or a heavy-duty jigsaw with a metal-cutting blade and be careful none of the tools cause the door to warp or bend.

Note: These are general instructions for a typical installation on an exterior door. Check out the manufacture’s installation video or guide.

  1. After marking your pet’s shoulder height with a measuring tape, remove the exterior door (the one you’ll be installing the pet door into) from its hinges and move it to a location that will be easy to work on.
  2. Use the pet door template to properly place the pet door with appropriate step-over height (at least three inches from the bottom of the door).
  3. Then, note any markings needed from the template, and drill holes for the corners of the pet door, per the instructions.
  4. Use a jigsaw or similar tool to cut out the pet door shape according to the template lines.
  5. Then measure and cut the pet door “tunnel” pieces to fit your door width.
  6. Assemble the pieces of the pet door per the instructions, then place them into the door hole.
  7. Optional: Use a bead of caulk to make the pet door more energy efficient and weatherproof. This is especially helpful on doors that may receive large amounts of direct precipitation, or ones that will open onto public areas of the home, such as living rooms or kitchens.
  8. Install the pet door by using the screws and nuts provided.
  9. Reinstall the exterior door back on its hinges.

Ready to Get Started? We've Got You and Your Pet Covered


McCoy’s has all you need to create an easier in and out routine! You can talk to our experts about how to pick the right pet door for your lifestyle, door type, and DIY experience level. You – and your pet – can find out from our friendly staff about how a pet door can make both your lives just a little more convenient.