What is AAHA Accreditation?

Did you know the America Animal Hospital Association is the only association that accredits animal hospitals in the United States and Canada?  Did you know that according to their website, only 12%-15% of practices are accredited?  That’s only about 3,500 practices between both countries!

What is AAHA Accreditation

It may not seem like something that should matter for pet owners, but trust me – it should!  When Megan and I worked at Toms River Animal Hospital, we helped the hospital prepare for its inspection and that experience has given us a lot of insight.

Is it really important?

Yes!  The veterinary practices who pride themselves on meeting the strict policies and protocols do it because they have your pet’s best interest at heart.

They undergo a comprehensive inspection of their facility, patient procedures, and patient records because they want to provide the best care in veterinary medicine.

AAHA requires that over 900 items be addressed before a practice can earn its AAHA Accreditation.

Dr. Koenigstein of OCVH treating a gecko

Dr. Koenigstein of OCVH treating a gecko

What does it mean for you and your pet?

From a pet owner perspective, bringing your pet to an AAHA accredited practice should give you added peace of mind.  The AAHA accreditation requires the practice have written protocols about many important topics such as:

  • Pre-anesthesia protocol: they have a protocol requiring diagnostic tests before anesthesia is administered to help ensure the pet is healthy enough to receive anesthesia.
  • Patient monitoring: they have a protocol to monitor and evaluate patient care
  • Anesthetic Supplies & Equipment: they keep a current log of all maintenance and repairs to all anesthesia machines
  • Contagious Diseases: they have a protocol in place for the treatment of contagious pets and how the contagion is contained without exposing other pets
  • Pain Management: they have a protocol in place to address preemptive pain control, situations are known to be associated with pain, names of pain medications and more.
  • Surgery: they have a protocol in explaining how to prepare a patient for surgery, what products should be used and how long they should be used.  It should also address the proper preparation of the veterinarian, staff, surgical instruments, and surgical suite.

Having written protocols for those items in addition to at least a dozen more may not seem as though it should matter for a pet parent.  But think about the time and energy it took to create those protocols.  It shows that the practice is dedicated to providing the same care to each of its patients.  Those protocols help ensure that each staff member understands what is expected of them and how procedures and care should be performed.

In addition to having written protocols about patient care, it is also important to have training for client care as well.  That is why part of the AAHA accreditation is to provide some of the following client protocols:

  • Client Communication:  they should have a training protocol explaining how to answer the phones, take messages, transfer calls, use the computer system and more
  • Patient Medical Records:  they should have a written protocol explaining how examinations, diagnosis, prognosis, treatment plans, costs and follow up care is explained to clients
  • Patient Discharge:  they should have a protocol explaining who discharges the pet, how the discharge is scheduled when the discharge is scheduled, what information needs to be explained to the client, and how to prepare the pet for discharge
  • Ethical Practices:  they should have a written ethical philosophy to be used when encountering ethical issues
  • Management Plan:  they should have a written policy explaining the management of the practice and outline who the managers are in each area of the practice
  • Disaster Plan:  they should have a written disaster plan outlining evacuation of people and animals, an evacuation meeting place outside, the location of breakers, water shut off, gas shut off, etc.

 Are there any AAHA Accredited Animal Hospitals in Our Area?

You might be pleasantly surprised to learn that that are 6 AAHA Accredited practices in Toms River and the surrounding areas.  Here is a list of them:

If you don’t live in the Toms River area, please visit this website to search for an AAHA Accredited practice in your area.



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