Did you know that accreditation is a voluntary process for veterinary hospitals? Unlike human hospitals, which must be accredited to offer care to Medicare patients, animal hospitals are not held to such standards. Nearly 60% of pet owners believe their hospital is accredited, yet only 12% to 15% of all veterinary practices in the United States and Canada have undertaken the rigorous evaluation process to ensure they provide the highest level of care. 

The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) is known to strive for the highest level of companion animal care. This governing body, which is the only institution that accredits veterinary practices, continuously updates protocols, guidelines, and standards of care to remain at the forefront of veterinary medicine. Accreditation is granted to a hospital after a thorough evaluation of more than 900 standards of excellence that cover 18 areas of veterinary practice. AAHA-accreditation status is the highest achievement a veterinary hospital can gain, and we are proud to be part of this elite group. 

AAHA standards of care

Since AAHA-accredited practices are the cream of the crop, we adhere to strict standards of care regarding every aspect of practice. The standards are divided into the following 18 categories:

  • Anesthesia
  • Contagious disease
  • Dentistry
  • Emergency and critical care
  • Pain management
  • Patient care
  • Surgery
  • Client services
  • Continuing education
  • Human resources
  • Leadership
  • Referral standards
  • Safety
  • Medical records
  • Examination records
  • Housekeeping and maintenance
  • Diagnostic imaging
  • Laboratory and pharmacy

As veterinary medicine advances, these standards are updated so that practices continue to provide the very best care. AAHA-accredited practices strive to remain at the leading edge and provide innovative care for every patient.

AAHA guidelines

As well as setting the highest-rated standards for accredited hospitals, AAHA provides cutting-edge guidelines for protocols for every veterinary practice. 

  • Anesthesia for dogs and cats covers one of the most terrifying aspects of veterinary medicine for pet owners. Although surgery will benefit their pet’s health, many people choose to avoid a procedure because anesthesia is such a scary concept. Fortunately, AAHA has developed guidelines that allow us to administer the safest anesthesia possible.

  • Behavior management is critical for ensuring your pet is happy and healthy, as behavior problems affect more pets than any other medical condition and can so badly damage your bond that you surrender your pet to a shelter. Mental health is as important as physical health for your pet’s well-being, and AAHA’s guidelines ensure her behavioral needs are met.

  • Dental care is another cornerstone of pet health. More than three-quarters of pets have some form of dental disease by the age of 3, causing painful tooth decay, bone and tooth loss, inflammation, and infection. AAHA has created guidelines for veterinary hospitals to provide the top-notch dental care that is so important for a pet’s overall health.

  • Diabetes management is challenging, even for the most dedicated pet owner. To ensure a diabetic pet receives the best care, and to create a strong partnership between pet owner and veterinarian, AAHA has developed guidelines to help diabetic pets thrive.

  • End-of-life care allows you to alleviate your pet’s pain and discomfort while maintaining an acceptable quality of life, and to farewell your beloved pet at the right time for your family. AAHA collaborated with the International Association of Animal Hospice and Palliative Care to support you in end-of-life decisions.

  • Fluid therapy provides pets with life-saving fluids, whether they are needed during surgery or to treat an illness. AAHA’s guidelines prepare veterinary hospitals to appropriately administer fluids needed to stabilize your pet.

  • Infection control, prevention, and biosecurity knowledge is critical to prevent the spread of disease. Pets can spread disease to other pets, or to people. AAHA has developed protocols that decrease the risk of disease transmission in veterinary hospitals.

  • Feline and canine life-stage guidelines were created to help veterinarians guide pet owners in providing the best care for their cat or dog throughout every life stage.
  • Nutritional assessment guidelines aid veterinarians in customizing nutrition plans based on each pet’s individual needs. Proper nutrition can help treat certain diseases and support your pet through healing and recovery processes.

  • Oncology guidelines are necessary to help veterinarians determine the best path for cancer treatment. Cancer is a common health concern for pets as well as people, but formulating a treatment plan for a pet is challenging. AAHA’s guidelines aid in developing cancer-management protocols.

  • Pain management is critical for pets, who are experts at hiding their pain. They can’t tell us where it hurts, so AAHA has created guidelines to help discover and manage pain in pets.

  • Preventive health care is key to helping pets live long, healthy lives. Wellness visits are necessary for early detection and treatment to halt a disease process in its tracks. Preventive health care also includes keeping your pet’s vaccinations current.

  • Canine vaccination guidelines have been developed to allow veterinarians to form a protocol for each pet based on her lifestyle, rather than a one-size-fits-all standard.

  • Weight management is critical for pet health, especially since pet obesity has become an epidemic in America. Weight problems can create many health issues, including high blood pressure, arthritis, diabetes, heart and respiratory disease, kidney dysfunction, and some cancers. AAHA guidelines help your veterinarian develop a diet and exercise plan to keep your pet at an appropriate, healthy weight.

As an AAHA-accredited hospital, we practice only the best medicine for your beloved pet. We won’t accept anything less, and we are proud to maintain our accreditation status through thorough re-evaluations and high-quality care.

Experience the AAHA difference. Give us a call to book your pet’s exam.