How Do You Cut a Hole in a Door for a Pet Door? (Solved!)

Here are the steps to cut a hole in a door for a pet door:

  1. Select and measure the door to cut a hole in
  2. Measure pet and select a pet door
  3. Trace an outline and mark screw holes
  4. Cut a hole along outline
  5. Install hardware for the pet door

The rest of this article will explain the steps for cutting a hole for a pet door in greater detail.

What You’ll Need to Cut a Hole in a Door and Install a Pet Door

Tools and Equipment

You will need a few common household tools in order to cut a hole into a preexisting door and install a pet door. These items include measuring tape, a pencil, a jigsaw or electric handsaw, a drill or screwdriver, and a caulking gun. Of course, you will also need to pick out the right door for your pet as well.

How to Choose a the Right Size Pet Door to Install into a Door

A pet door needs to be tall enough that the animal has enough room to duck its head beneath the top of the door. Unless your pet is extra-large, however, you don’t need to worry about making the door incredibly tall, just tall enough that the pet has sufficient clearance.

To ensure that you buy a pet door that is the correct size before you install it, use a tape measure or ruler to find the height of your pet. Your pet door will need to be slightly taller than the pet’s withers, which is the ridge between its shoulder blades.

You may also want to measure your pet’s width from shoulder to shoulder to make sure the door won’t be too narrow. According to The Home Depot, a pet door should be at least two inches higher and wider than your pet’s measurements.

Deciding Where to Cut a Hole in a Door for Your Pet Door

The best location to install a pet door is within a preexisting door, typically an exterior door leading to a backyard, though you can also install within an interior door that leads out into a garage. After selecting a door that you think will be suitable for placement, measure it to make sure it has enough space for your desired pet door, plus a couple inches on all sides.

The Steps to Cut a Hole in a Door for a Pet Door

Trace an Outline for the Hole in Your Door

Once you have purchased the pet door and selected your home door to install it in, use a pencil to trace an outline along the template that is provided with the pet door. Trace the outline onto the space on the door where you plan to cut the hole.

In addition, mark out holes at the four corners of the rectangular outline you just drew. These holes should fall just inside of the rest of the traced outline. The template will typically also include spots to mark for screw holes, which you should trace now so that you can make sure the door lines up correctly later.

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The outline for the pet door should be high enough off the ground for your pet to step over the bottom of the frame comfortably. If you pet is short and takes small strides, the door should be closer to the ground. On the other hand, if your pet is larger and takes bigger strides, the bottom of the pet door should be a couple inches off the ground.

Cut the Hole in the Door

Before you cut through the entire outline for the hole, use your drill to make holes at the four corners that you previously marked with a pencil. These holes will serve as a reference point for the locations of the four corners of the hole that you are cutting out.

Put on any necessary protective equipment and use a jigsaw or electric handsaw to cut along the outline you traced, using your drilled corner holes for additional reference, until you have cut through the entire boundary for the door hole. Remove and dispose of the inner part of the door that you just cut out.

Bear in mind that if you are cutting through a hollow door instead of a solid door, you will need to trace outlines and cut on both sides of your door in order to make a hole on each side. Follow the same steps as above for the opposite side of the door after you have cut through one side of the door.

Install the Pet Door into the New Door Hole

After you have cut the hole in your door, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to install the components of your new pet door. The side of the pet door with a flap typically goes on the interior side of the door. Install the interior and exterior sides of the pet door according to the provided instructions.

As with any installation, check to see that the hardware sits flush against your door and lines up with the areas for the screw holes that you traced from the template earlier. Once you are confident that the hardware lines up, remove the components and use a drill bit that is slightly smaller than the provided screws to drill guide holes.

Once you have created guide holes, put the pet door hardware back into place and drill in the provided screws, which will affix the pet door tightly to your house’s door. Hold the pet door firmly in place with your free hand as you drill to make sure that it doesn’t shift out of its position.

Seal the Hole in the Door

After the pet door has been firmly affixed to the preexisting door, use a caulking gun to seal off the inner part of the frame, which will increase your pet door’s energy efficiency by helping to prevent exterior air from entering your home. Now tha the pet door has been installed, you can begin training your pet to use its new pet door to enter and exit the house.