One of the most important steps in finding the perfect pet door for your home is making sure it will be the perfect size for your dog or cat. This guide will walk you through how to measure your pet for a pet door properly. Learn the right way to get your pet’s measurements and other key sizing tips to consider.
Keep in mind the growth rate of different breeds and species, as it will help you predict how large your pets will get in the future. If you are purchasing a door for a puppy or kitten, their measurements at this stage will not match the perfectly sized door for their adulthood.
You could plan to install a bigger pet door once they are full-grown, especially if you are unsure of the breed or plan to get more pets in the future. But it is also possible to make projections on the most likely size of your future full-grown pet and give some leeway in case they outgrow your expectations.
The Chief Veterinary Officer at the American Kennel Club notes that skeletal growth in dogs can take 6 to 24 months depending on the size and breed of the dog. As their bones develop, they continue to grow taller and wider as they fill out their frame. Size really matters here, as smaller dog breeds can already be done growing at 6 to 8 months, whereas giant dog breeds can take the full two years. For cats, growth should be complete by 12 months for most breeds, and up to 18 months for large breeds such as the Main Coon.
If your dog is a mixed breed, it is worth asking the shelter if they have any information about the parents and their sizes. Rescues, shelters, and veterinarians often have experience with all kinds of mixed breeds of all sizes and combinations, so you can ask them how big they believe your pet will be in adulthood.
If your dog or cat is already over 2 or 3 years old, no matter the breed, you can be confident in using their current measurements.
There are several sizes of dog doors and cat doors to choose from so it’s important that you learn how to measure your pet for a pet door and get the measurements right. When measuring your pet, you should consider how they will actually use the door. Consider the bottom clearance for the smaller dogs and the top of the shoulders for the bigger dogs.
Make sure they are standing up straight, and measure from the ground to their withers, the area between their shoulder blades right below the neck. Your dog’s height will be from the floor to the highest part of its back. Cats can similarly be measured from the ground to the top of the shoulder.
Make sure to add a few inches to your pet’s measurements when selecting the size of your pet door. You do not want an exact match to your pet, but rather a door frame larger than them. It is important that they can comfortably exit and enter without fear of getting stuck or scraping against the bottom or sides.
Find your pet’s widest section to measure – at their chest or hips. You can also partially open a door and have them pass through, measuring the width of the gap. As with height, add at least an inch or two to your pet’s size for the dimension of the dog door.
Most dog door models are taller than they are wide, as many dog breeds are lanky with long legs. If you have a stockier breed like bulldogs, mastiffs, or rottweilers you should make sure standard model sizes accommodate their bulk or request custom dimensions. An appropriate width is as key as height, as you don’t want your dog or cat squeezing through the frame each time. Also consider that although your fur baby may stop growing in height by age 2 or 3, they may continue to grow in width for years to come.
If you have multiple dogs/cats or both cats and dogs, take the measurements of the largest and smallest pets in the household. While it may seem like only the biggest pet matters, there is also the step-over height to consider.
The ideal measurements will be high enough for your tallest pet and close enough to the ground for the one with the shortest legs. Measure your smallest pets’ legs or the length from the floor to their belly.
In addition to height, the age of your fur baby is important. You must remember that over the years and decades, they will likely lose mobility. Most elderly dogs cannot move like they did as a puppy.
The key section of the pet door is the ‘step over’ area (or how high the pet door is above the ground). If it is raised very high off the ground, younger pets can easily raise their legs up, but as they grow older, they will not have the same flexibility.
A great solution is Hale’s “no rise” pet door for panel models. It is important to note that even in this model, there will be at least 2″ in rise at the bottom because of the door itself depending on the depth of your sliding glass door tracks. Also, consider the inside and the outside of the door. You may need to put one of our pet ramps on either or both sides to help them get in and out.
Always double-check your measurements before placing your order. Remember, the measurements are the exact size of your pet. They are not the exact dimensions for the pet door. A great tip for a perfect fit is to make a cardboard cutout of the pet door dimensions you select. Put the cutout on your doorway to determine whether your furry friend will be able to comfortably move through it.
Of course, it is always possible to change pet doors as needs change, especially if you bring more pets into your home. But if you take the time now to consider your dog or cat’s needs throughout their lifetime, you can make an investment that will suit them for their whole lives.
Now that you have learned how to measure your pet for a pet door, you can find additional pet door sizing information here. You can also call 800-646-4773 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for expert help with sizing recommendations. Click here to order your dog door now.
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