Pet Door Safety Examined

Many pet owners prefer to allow their animals to come and go from the home as they please, and a pet door makes it possible for both cats and dogs to venture freely between the house and the outdoors. There are, however, certain safety risks that a dog door or cat flaps bring to a home. Before selecting and installing a cat mate or other type of pet door for your animals, consider carefully the associated safety concerns and how you may best minimize their impact on your house.

Dangers to Children

One of the most important considerations to keep in mind is that toddlers and other small children can also fit through certain pet doors. Particularly in cases where the door is large enough to accomodate a moderately-sized dog, pet doors can pose a risk to your child's safety. It may be easy for your toddler to slip through the pet door and become lost or injured outside. The traditional flap-based pet door is especially dangerous in this regard.

Dangers to Security

Pet doors also offer a way for unwanted strangers to enter your home. Again, larger doors are riskier than smaller ones. If a potential intruder can access your home through the pet door, you put yourself and your family at risk by keeping the door available for your pet's use.

Characteristics of a Safe Pet Door

Given the serious safety concerns associated with pet doors, it pays to consider ways in which you might make your pet doors safer. First, consider installing pet doors in locations that are concealed or inaccessible for humans. A pet door that leads to an enclosed backyard or garden area is much safer than one on the front door or main entrance to the home, for instance. Ensure that your pet door is subtly colored and not readily visible from the road or nearby areas. Many pet doors can be locked or secured from the inside. These tend to be safer than pet doors that remain accessible throughout the day.

If you have children in the home, purchase a pet door that will not fit your child. Do not place the pet door along the ground, but rather set it above the floor by several inches. A secure door that can be locked or shut is also a good idea in these cases. By keeping your pet door closed and locked when you are not present, you help to protect your child against accidentally becoming injured or lost.

There are a variety of alternatives to the standard pet door model. You can allow your pet to roam freely between the yard and the home, training him to scratch or call when he would like to be let inside. Many pet owners install invisible fences around their property in order to ensure that their pets do not stray too far. For more ideas and safe pet door alternatives, visit a home improvement center or pet store.