The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), one of the veterinary industry’s most well-known and well-respected organizations, comprises veterinary professionals dedicated to advancements in medicine and patient care. In fact, AAHA is the only organization that has the ability to accredit veterinary hospitals in the U.S. and Canada. This means that they work with and guide veterinary practices to ensure that they meet the highest standards of care. This may sound like a common practice, but here are some surprising facts surrounding AAHA and the accreditation process:

#1: AAHA accreditation is completely voluntary

Yes, you read that right. Whereas human hospitals must undergo mandatory accreditation, this process is not required for veterinary practices. While complying with federal and state regulations, including state inspections, is necessary, AAHA holds veterinarians to a higher expectation, requiring adherence to multiple standards in a variety of categories. Any veterinary clinic can become an AAHA member, but accreditation takes time, effort, and a lot of legwork—not to mention, practices can undergo the steps for the AAHA designation, but accreditation is never guaranteed. 

#2: AAHA-accreditation means great things for your pet

You may not realize, but behind the scenes at Otay Pet Vets, we work diligently to adhere to more than 900 AAHA standards of excellence that culminate in an ultimate goal—your pet’s well-being. 

These guidelines, which cover everything from anesthesia, to pain management, to diagnostic imaging were carefully created to elevate patient care, our top priority. Since “85% of pet owners would choose an AAHA-accredited hospital over a nonaccredited hospital,” according to one study, we know this is your priority, too. Choosing an AAHA-accredited hospital for your pet means the care they receive will include the most up-to-date, proven methods and treatments to ensure their continued good health. For example, AAHA-accredited hospitals must adhere to the highest safety standards during anesthesia, to prevent serious complications. They also take full-mouth radiographs for each and every dental patient to ensure a pet’s entire dentition is evaluated. Since the most serious deterioration occurs below the gum line, radiographs are critical to fully diagnose and treat dental disease, and prevent chronic pain in your pet.

#3: Becoming accredited is not an easy task

The AAHA accreditation process is so rigorous and time-consuming, it’s no wonder that only 12% to 15% of all U.S. and Canadian veterinary practices boast the AAHA designation. With more than 900 standards to meet, achieving accreditation is tedious, but, in our opinion, completely worth it. In our eyes, our patients—your pets—deserve nothing less than the best, and AAHA helps us achieve that. 

#4: Maintaining accreditation is challenging, too

Becoming AAHA-accredited is a feat of its own, but did you know that every three years, Otay Pet Vets undergoes an additional, equally rigorous, on-site review, to maintain our accreditation status? This process helps keep our clinic up-to-date, and compliant with AAHA’s standards—something we don’t think twice about. As veterinary medicine and technology advances, AAHA’s standards evolve, which means we provide the best care possible to your four-legged family members each and every day. AAHA accreditation is a team effort, and each member of the Otay Pet Vets staff is invested in ensuring your pet receives the best care available.

#5: AAHA provides more than accreditation services

The organization that sets the bar for veterinary excellence is also renowned for many other initiatives. AAHA’s set of guidelines for veterinarians provides recommendations along various topics, including vaccinations, dental care, and fluid therapy, to help improve pet health. They also regularly release a peer-reviewed journal, the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association, and have taken active positions on animal welfare topics. In addition, AAHA helped create Partners for Healthy Pets (PHP) and Pet Nutrition Alliance (PNA), to help raise awareness about the importance of pet nutrition and veterinary preventive care. 

At Otay Pet Vets, we’ve worn our AAHA designation with pride for nearly 10 years, and we plan to do the same for at least the next 10. We like to think that our dedication to excellent patient care and client experience is why we were voted San Diego’s best vet from 2016 to 2018, and one of DVM360’s Vet500, but we’d love to hear it from you. Contact our office to leave a comment, suggestion, or to ask us for more information about AAHA and the accreditation process.