What Does It Mean to Be AAHA Accredited

Dr. Joe Alcorn, M.S., D.V.M.

Dr. Joe Alcorn is founder of Care Animal Hospital in Temecula, California. He has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Colorado State University. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association and his advice has been featured in large publications like Bustle and Martha Stewart.

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What Does it Mean to be AAHA Accredited? Why is it important that your veterinarian is accredited? Should you be taking your pet to an AAHA accredited practice? You may or may not be taking your pet to an AAHA accredited veterinary practice, though it’s worth thinking about. 

We’ll gladly inform you of all there is to know about AAHA accreditation and what it really means for a practice to be AAHA accredited.

What Does it Mean to be AAHA Accredited?

A veterinary practice that’s accredited by the AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) provides the patient top-quality care. The AAHA accreditation is a badge that means the practice has passed many important relative guidelines in pet care. The AAHA accreditation is the only thing that signifies that a facility is running at the highest standards in veterinary care.

An AAHA accredited veterinarian examining a dog

AAHA accredited practices are greatly trusted by pet owners and allow them to feel assured that their pet is being cared for in the best possible way. 

What is AAHA Accreditation?

AAHA accreditation is a badge of excellence for veterinary practice achieved by meeting or going above the standards of educational programs, facility management, and the people’s needs in regards to their pets. 

Veterinary facilities don’t need to be AAHA accredited. This accreditation is completely voluntary. Whereas, all regular hospitals for people must be AAHA accredited and managed at the highest standards. 

AAHA accreditation is an important program for all animal care facilities. This helps pet owners trust that the veterinarian they choose is up to date on pet health education and that their practice, as well as staff, is managed efficiently to give the patient the utmost care. 

How Can a Veterinary Practice Get AAHA Accreditation?

A veterinary practice must go through a long difficult process to meet the standards of AAHA accreditation. Veterinary practices located within the United States and Canada that choose to go through this process are assessed on roughly 900 quality standards. These standards are far more thorough than the basic regulations that vary in each location. 

AAHA accredited facilities in some areas are no longer required to pass regular inspections. This is in effect due to the strict on-site evaluation that the AAHA organization does for each accredited practice every 3 years. This process of evaluation goes over the AAHA standards, which include:

  • Anesthesia
  • Patient care
  • Pain management
  • Safety
  • Client services
  • Surgery
  • Diagnostic imaging
  • Pharmacy
  • Dentistry
  • Medical records
  • Laboratory
  • Leadership
  • Facility examination
  • Contagious disease
  • Emergency care
  • Continuing education

The evaluation places these standards on a graph to show continued progress in each category of the animal care facility with every evaluation. 

A dog being carried by a veterinarian while being examined

There are also veterinary specialty hospitals that can achieve accreditation as a referral practice. A specialty hospital is where you have many doctors that specialize in their field of care, for example, an oncologist, surgeon, or neurologist.

These types of hospitals can be AAHA accredited if they are working with certified physicians, though, they will only be accredited in the department of the certified physician.

What is the AAHA?

The AAHA, which stands for the American Animal Hospital Association, is a non-profit organization that is the only accreditation for veterinary facilities in the United States and Canada. It was founded in 1933 to achieve high-quality care for animal hospitals

The AAHA stands for a purpose to give each veterinarian continued education so that they are able to provide the most professional and accurate care to an animal. This purpose also allows veterinarians to manage their facility in the most competent manner. With the help of AAHA, veterinary practices can effectively meet the needs of pet owners and work with them efficiently with knowledge and experienced care. 

The American Animal Hospital Association works with veterinarians to better the health standards of each facility. This is thought out through guidelines that are always changing to meet the most recent important needs of animals. Some of the most recent guidelines include:

  • Anesthesia for cats and dogs
  • Behavior management
  • Dental care
  • Diabetes management
  • End of life care
  • Fluid therapy
  • Infection control, prevention, and biosecurity
  • Life stage for canine and feline
  • Nutritional assessment
  • Oncology
  • Preventive healthcare
  • Canine vaccination
  • Weight management

The AAHA is also known for its very intelligent endeavors that help pet owners and doctors be more aware of the health of their animals. 

Veterinary and Pet Owner Education

The AAHA is acknowledged for its continuing education program that ensures all accredited practices are up to date on all of the health care issues pertaining to companion animals. This is not only set up for the veterinarian, their entire staff has to constantly continue their education to give better care to the animals seen in the facility. 

Two veterinarians performing surgery on a cat

The AAHA also reaches out to pet owners to provide them with the most recent accredited facilities and their ratings. They even have many resources for pet owners to receive information on how to properly care for their pets. 

Animal Identification and Microchipping

The AAHA has set up an identification tool that they can implant into companion animals. This tool is useful in the event that an animal gets lost. They can easily locate the microchip and bring the pet back to its owner. The microchip carries all of the animal’s health care records so that veterinarians can easily access all the information on an animal without having to contact previous clinics and doctors. 

Partners for Healthy Pets

Partners for Healthy Pets is a program created by the AAHA and several other animal organizations to help spread the importance of pet clinics and why it’s necessary for companion animals to receive annual checkups. This program also ensures that each pet gets the care they deserve with every visit. 

Veterinarians see large decreases in animals who don’t get routine care. This leads to serious illnesses going unchecked and possibly be prevented. This program strives to make pet owners and veterinarians change the way preventive care for animals is viewed. 

Pet Nutrition Alliance

The Pet Nutrition Alliance was created by many animal associations, including the AAHA, to educate physicians and pet owners on how to help pets get the right nutrition. With the rise of obesity and weight-related illnesses in companion animals, the nutrition alliance works hard to make sure pets get the proper care for these issues. 

They make it easy to keep track of an animal’s nutritional habits by allowing pet owners and physicians to have access to helpful resources. These resources provide weight loss programs, exam checklists, assessment forms, feeding guides, articles on good nutrition, conferences on pet food, body condition charts, educational pamphlets, and much more. 


Being AAHA accredited is a symbol that the veterinary practice not only cares for the health of an animal, they especially care for the overall wellness of each animal that comes into their care and they strive to give that animal the care they deserve.