Pet doors are a convenient solution for busy pet owners
Security risks include burglary and stray or wild animals
You can reduce your risk with strategic door placement
Locking doors and high-tech electronic solutions are available
A handyperson can install a pet door for $70 to $300
Pet doors seem like a win-win, offering our fur babies the comfort and freedom to go outside when they need, while freeing us from needing to open the door every time they start whining. But pet doors aren’t without their drawbacks—namely, the security risk they pose from burglars and even wild animal visitors.
Why Install a Pet Door?
There are many types of pet doors to pick from, including both manual and electronic options, permanent and removable options, some with locks and some without. No matter which you choose, all types of pet doors offer a few key benefits.
The primary reason homeowners install pet doors is for convenience. Your pets gain access to fresh air and space to run around, and you aren’t interrupted throughout your day every time your fur babies need to relieve themselves. Plus, many busy working homeowners struggle to schedule their days around getting home in time to let their pets outside (and back in again).
Another perk of doggy doors: They decrease the number of accidents Fido might have. Bacteria and stains from pet feces or urine can be difficult to remove, so it’s easiest if those accidents don’t occur in the first place. This is especially useful when first housetraining a dog or puppy, as this is when accidents tend to be most frequent.
What Are the Security Risks Posed by Pet Doors?
Despite the convenience they offer, installing a pet door can create new problems, particularly when it comes to home security. Many pet doors consist of a small cutout in a wall, window, or door with a weighted two-way flap that allows pets to come and go without wind and weather coming in.
Point of Access
An unlocked pet door is an opening through which any person small enough can enter. Even if an intruder can’t fit through the door, they may still be able to reach through. Also, many pet doors are located in the back door of the home, often in a fenced yard. These areas tend to be out of view of neighbors and passersby, creating the perfect opportunity for a burglar to go unnoticed.
Stray or Wild Animals
Like human intruders, any animal that fits through your pet door can enter your home. Common visitors include raccoons, rats, possums, stray cats, and snakes. These pests may relieve themselves inside, get into your food, or lead you to spend time and money on removing them from your home.
Lets Moisture In and Heat Out
While not a security risk per se, the typical pet door involves cutting a hole in a wall or door for permanent access. Moisture from rain and snow can enter your home through this hole, so be sure to caulk your pet door with waterproof silicone or acrylic caulk.
A pet door can also allow warm air to escape during colder months, making it more difficult to keep your home warm. To minimize the loss of energy efficiency, you can hire a local handyperson to install a pet door properly. This should only take a couple of hours, and the cost of labor will be between $75 and $300. This doesn’t include the cost of the door itself.
How to Reduce Security Risks Posed by Pet Doors
Though they come with security risks, a pet door may still be the solution you need for added convenience as a homeowner and pet parent. Whether you already have a pet door or are considering one for your home, the following tips may help to reduce the risk they pose.
Install in a Basement Location
Though most people may envision the traditional pet entrance in their back door, you can also opt to install an opening in glass blocks or an out-of-reach ground-level basement window. Though these tend to be better for cats and small pets that are able to jump to these exits, you can also install a pet ramp or similar feature in your basement to increase accessibility.
Install in a Wall
Instead of a door or window, you can install your pet door in an exterior wall. That way, burglars cannot reach in to access any locking mechanisms that would make it easier for them to gain access to your home.
Choose Locking Doors
Many pet doors now come with enhanced security features, such as locking latches or slide bolts. You can then keep this type of pet door locked when not in use, whether you’re away from home or trying to prevent your pets from going in and out at night.
Seek Higher-Tech Solutions
There is no shortage of home security solutions, from security cameras and motion sensors that connect to your phone to professionally monitored home security services. The cost for a security system can vary greatly depending on the extent of your needs. Choose systems that won’t be triggered by your pet’s body weight to eliminate false alarms.
Another solution that works particularly well with larger dog breeds is an electronic pet door. There are many variations, including options that work with a collar-based sensor to activate the door. You can even install a wireless door chime that will alert you when someone comes through the pet door.