Man or woman’s best friend deserves the very best. For some pet owners, that means the best toys or bed to sleep in. Others are more concerned about their pet’s veterinary care. Many pet owners don’t realize the care they’re providing their pets could come from someone more qualified for the task.  Almost 60% of pet owners think their veterinary hospital has accreditation when it actually doesn’t. So what does an AAHA accreditation mean, and how will finding an AAHA accredited vet impact you and your pet? Keep reading to find out. We’ve reviewed everything you need to know about AAHA accreditation below. 

What is AAHA Accreditation?

AAHA stands for the American Animal Hospital Association. Founded in 1933, this association created a reputable accreditation program for veterinary hospitals. The organization covers veterinary hospitals in both the United States and Canada. AAHA is the gold standard for vets. It’s the only organization that provides accreditation for vet hospitals between both countries. At human hospitals, accreditation is mandatory. Yet for veterinary hospitals, an AAHA accreditation is voluntary. Since veterinary hospitals have the choice, many practices aren’t accredited.  As an AAHA veterinary hospital, these vets hold themselves to higher standards than other clinics. 900 of these standards review each practice before they receive their accreditation. The standards cover all aspects of veterinary medicine, from recordkeeping to patient care.

The AAHA standards also address:

  • Pain management
  • Examination facilities
  • Diagnostics
  • Anesthesia
  • Surgery
  • Laboratory
  • Pharmacy
  • Medical records
  • Contagious disease
  • Dental care
  • Emergency and critical care
  • Client service
  • Continuing education
  • Cleanliness
  • Housekeeping and maintenance
  • Leadership
  • Referral standards
  • Safety

The AAHA standards of accreditation receive regular updates. As a result, veterinary practices can ensure they’re maintaining the highest possible standards.

Why Do Practices Become AAHA Accredited?

Many veterinary clinics choose to become AAHA accredited to operate their practice based on a higher level of standards.  Undergoing the accreditation process isn’t a guarantee for these clinics. The process is often considered challenging and rigorous, despite the fact that it’s voluntary. Despite the challenge, more vet clinics are stepping forward to earn their accreditation. Becoming accredited tells the AAHA a veterinary practice has committed itself. These are clinics that want to provide the highest standards of care for their patients. By achieving accreditation, these clinics are the best they can become.

Gaining AAHA accreditation serves two purposes:

  • It recognizes and certifies the top veterinary practices
  • It helps good veterinary clinics excel by coaching teams to provide the highest level of value to patients

A veterinary practice in your area might have a reputation as “good.” As an AAHA accredited clinic, they’ve proved they’re willing to reach the standard of “great.”

Financial Benefits

Veterinary hospitals that choose to become AAHA accredited also experience financial benefits. Vets at these hospitals earn higher annual incomes than non-accredited practices. An AAHA accredited clinic is also able to charge higher for the average transaction charge. 

For the Team

Practices also choose to earn their accreditation because of its impact. Achieving accreditation can boost morale and cohesion throughout the facility’s personnel.  As an AAHA accredited veterinary clinic, the entire staff is making a promise to provide top-level care for patients and clients. Hospital teams work together to achieve their accreditation. This creates a strong bond and team-building throughout the staff.  Other clinics choose to gain their accreditation because they want to create structure. The AAHA will assist these practices to run efficiently. For other veterinary clinics, having AAHA accreditation has become a recruitment tool. These clinics can attract skilled and dedicated employees to their practice. Teams often include people who want to practice at the highest possible standards. AAHA also provides resources for these teams, allowing veterinary clinics to offer the best medicine for their patients. 

The Process

To maintain its accreditation, a veterinary hospital will need to undergo an on-site evaluation. This comprehensive review occurs every three years to ensure the facility is meeting and practicing within AAHA guidelines.  A veterinary clinic will need to reach a broad range of requirements based on each of the AAHA guideline categories. Many of these categories involve specific protocols and procedures. A veterinary clinic that wants to maintain its accreditation will also need to prove they’re going above and beyond within the veterinary field.  It’s also important clinics continue practicing medicine at the level of AAHA standards. To do so, vets at an accredited facility need over 50 hours of continuing education every year. Meanwhile, support staff (veterinary clinics and assistants included) will need to stay current. This includes researching new practices and trends within their areas of expertise. 

What are the Benefits of Choosing an AAHA Accredited Vet?

More pet owners are becoming aware of their vet’s accreditation. In fact, 30% of pet owners report they look for an accredited hospital when they choose a veterinary hospital. When they find a vet isn’t accredited, many pet owners look elsewhere.  An AAHA accredited clinic offers vets with the highest standards of patient care within their practice. AAHA accredited clinics also consider fostering a sense of community among their priorities. By choosing an AAHA accredited vet, you’re also gaining access to a range of resources. These resources and trained professionals can provide you with peace of mind. Now you know your pet is getting the absolute best care. To receive that top-notch care, you’ll have to pay more than you would at a nonaccredited hospital. 

The Cat’s Meow: Why You Should Find a Vet With AAHA Accreditation

Dig into these bow-wow worthy benefits of choosing an AAHA accredited veterinary clinic. Choose a practice with AAHA accreditation to give your pet the best care available. A clinic with their AAHA accreditation will uphold to the highest level of standards. Now you know Fluffy will stay happy and healthy, thanks to the care of your AAHA accredited vet. Looking for a new vet in your area? Check the Veterinarians section of the blog for more information.