Veterinary medicine is regulated by state agencies, and each state maintains its own minimum regulations. Although AAHA-accreditation is voluntary, AAHA is the only organization in the US and Canada that accredits small animal hospitals based on standards that go above and beyond state regulations. The AAHA Standards of Accreditation include more than 900 individual standards, divided into 19 major sections including patient care.
Often times, it is not feasible for an owner to accompany or observe their pet while receiving veterinary care. During this time, it is common for owners to be anxious or nervous about how their beloved pet is being treated. To alleviate pet owner concerns and to help veterinary teams practice at a higher standard of excellence, the AAHA Standards of Accreditation address compassionate, high quality care for patients during all aspects of their visit by including over 900 standards that deal with staff training, examination and assessment, hospitalization, fluid therapy, adverse events, client compliance, pet behavior, nutrition, hospital acquired infections, animal handling, housing of patients, pain management and being prepared to handle everyday emergencies.
Among the many standards in the patient care section, AAHA accreditation requires that all patient care is under the authority, supervision, and approval of a licensed veterinarian. Additionally, AAHA Standards dictate that the practice has the means to administer oxygen on a periodic or on-going basis for compromised patients. This may be accomplished by using methods such as nasal canulas, oxygen cages, oxygen tents or e-collars enclosed with plastic. The Standards recommends that all accredited practices utilize a written protocol and training program that addresses how to identify and report significant abuse of animals and humans. This includes concerns such as starvation, refusal of basic humane care, non-hygienic environments, mishandling, and infliction of injury.
The Standards, developed by AAHA, are widely accepted as representing those components of veterinary practice that represent high quality pet care. The Standards are periodically reviewed and updated by a committee of experts and practitioners to ensure that they remain consistent with evolving veterinary knowledge and technology.