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AAHA: THE STANDARD OF VETERINARY EXCELLENCE

AAHA: THE STANDARD OF VETERINARY EXCELLENCE

Female professional veterinarian doctor examining a mixed breed dog that is wearing a plastic medical protective cone around her neck

Image Courtesy of DepositPhotos.com

While I was at the BlogPaws conference last month, I attended a special session sponsored by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA.org). Having previously worked as a vet tech, I’m familiar with this organization and learned even more during the presentation by Dr. Heather Loenser. If you’re not familiar with this wonderful organization, here’s what you need to know.

What Is AAHA?

The American Animal Hospital Association, founded 82 years ago, is a voluntary accrediting organization for small animal hospitals in the United States. That’s right…accreditation is VOLUNTARY, and it is not required by law. Only 12-15% of animal hospitals have gone through the rigorous and stringent evaluation process to attain this distinction.

That’s not to say that animal hospitals without AAHA-accreditation don’t offer great care from talented and dedicated veterinarians. Dr. Loenser noted that to achieve accreditation requires cooperation and dedication from the entire staff, from veterinarians and technicians to front desk staff and everyone who has a “paw” in the success of the practice.

It’s not particularly easy to achieve AAHA accreditation, or to maintain it. So when you see the red logo on your hospital door, website or their educational materials, you know they’ve gone the extra mile. These folks hold themselves to a higher standard.

Once accredited by AAHA, the animal hospital gets reevaluated every three years, measured against 900 standards. Some of these standards are mandatory, while others have a bit of wiggle room depending on circumstances.

For example, having a single-use surgery and ventilated isolation area are mandatory. hospital design can vary quite a bit depending on the location, type of building, size of practice and other parameters that are not so black and white.

A few of the other standards include issues related to medical records and even mentoring new graduates, as well as pain management, dentistry, radiology, infectious diseases, anesthesia and surgery. You can see some of these AAHA-recommended guidelines online, too.

Young female veterinarian with a cat in her arms

Image courtesy of DepositPhotos.com

Value Added Information

AAHA also lists 27 position statements covering everything from analgesics and dangerous animal legislation to declawing, animals in research, wild animals as pets, and THIS:

The American Animal Hospital Association supports the concept of animals as SENTIENT BEINGS. Sentiency is the ability to feel, perceive or be conscious, or to have subjective experiences. Biological science, as well as common sense, supports the fact that the animals that share our lives are feeling, sensing beings that deserve thoughtful, high-quality care. The care that is offered should provide for the animal’s physical and behavioral welfare and strive to minimize pain, distress, and suffering for the animal.

For pet parents of human kids, there’s a “pet owner resources.” section, too. Check out the resources for teaching dog bite awareness and safety, as well as helping kids (and yourself, perhaps) through the loss of a special pet. Be sure to check out the AAHA Pet Owner resources section, too.

Is My Vet Hospital Accredited?

aahalogoMy veterinary hospital has a website, and on the “about” page it includes the AAHA logo and says this:

“We voluntarily sought accreditation by the American Animal Hospital Association. This means that we regularly have our practice evaluated by an expert to ensure that we comply with veterinary care standards. And it means that you can be sure your pet is receiving the best possible care, using the latest procedures and technology. Ask us about our AAHA accreditation and how it affects your pet.”

You can also check the AAHA-Accredited Vet Hospital Locator and do a search to see if your vet–or a clinic in your neck of the woods–is listed. If you’re moving to a new home, this is also a great way to help you find your ideal veterinary clinic, one that’s focused on compassionate care and that puts your pets first, just like you do.

If you don’t see the AAHA logo, why not ask about it? Maybe your hospital IS accredited and will make more of an effort to let clients know, when they know how much we care. Educated pet parents and clients make the best advocates for their companion animals, and your veterinarians want to know how much you care. In fact, your interest may be all that’s needed for your clinic to seek accreditation.

Now then…post in the comments. Is your veterinary hospital AAHA-accredited? Do tell!

Note: I was not compensated for this post, and AAHA is not responsible for the content of this blog. From time to time, when I feel information about a cause, product, company or organization is so important for the well being of our special animal companions and those who love them, I simply must share. Opinions expressed are my own.

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Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!

Thoughty Thursday: Are We There Yet?

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Funny how things that used to be a VERY-BIG-DEAL suddenly become a so-what issue. Stay with me here, but it seems that the whole Conventional vs Natural  vet medicine argument looks a whole lot like Traditional vs Indy pub discussions. Gets ya wantin’ to show your big-dawg teeth, don’t it?

I remember–(OMG, I’m channeling my grandma!)–when “holistic medicine” was woo-woo WAY-OUT-THERE on the fringes stuff that old-wives told tales about but was discounted by all the savvy scientific in-the-know types. I was a skeptic while researching holistic aka wholistic aka natural aka complementary aka new age, aka “WOO WOO” medicine for pets. Hell, they couldn’t even decide what to call it, so how could anyone take it seriously?

But slowly, steadily as I talked to these “fringe vets” about why they did what they did, the lightbulb went off. These weren’t crackpots…okay, some were pretty out there…but for the most part they’d practiced conventional Western vet care for many years. And simply got fed up when failed protocols frustrated pet owners leading to early pet death. Instead of quitting, or doing the same-old that didn’t work, these pioneers went a-lookin’ for answers, from the past, into the future, sideways and downstream every which way. While I don’t buy into every single “natural” trend, I know they have their place and offer great benefits to pets and owners.

Golly-gee-willikers, but for us writers that sounds awfully familiar. I was die-hard Tradional Publishing for 20 years, raising skeptic’s questions and pitying those souls who “resorted” to self publishing aka vanity printing. But slowly, steadily as I talked to these “fringe writers” about why they did what they did, turns out most aren’t crackpots. (Note: I said “most!”). They’d tried the conventional route, many were widely pub’d like Bob Mayer, and JA Konrath and Barry Eisler and too many others to list–and they’d simply got fed up when failed protocols frustrated copyright owners–the authors–leading to early book death. So instead of continuing on a flawed path, these pioneers snatched the reins.

Me, too–although I’m not in their league. Yet. Working on it.

And just like in the “old days” when natural vet medicine was fringe and marginalized, the Indies are being treated like yapping Chihuahuas nipping at the heels of conventional publishing. Am I wrong here? Hellooooo, when did exploration and finding creative ways to help pets–or authors–become forbidden?

Toy dogs don’t get the same respect as the big dawgs. But we’re sparkly bitches, no matter the size, with big-dawg (and cat) attitude that deserves to earn and learn on the same !#$%^&*()_+! playing field.

Vet medicine seems to’ve traveled further along that path. Even ten years ago, using herbs, home prepared foods, acupuncture and nutriceuticals was suspect. Today, old fashioned “natural healing” is the new cutting edge and veterinary medicine has gone back to the past to treat and cure pets. Pet food companies slap NATURAL on the labels, pharmaceutical research explores herbs for cancer therapy, and nutriceuticals that change gene expression wow us with healing power.

”Dr.

Dr. Shawn Messonnier was the “natural vet” when it wasn’t kewl. He explains the concept and why he decided to expand his practice to include holistic treatments in my latest Pet Peeves radio show. Today we call it “integrative medicine” or “complementary care” because it works best alongside conventional “Western” therapies and offer pets the best of all possible worlds. The latest Pet Peeves radio show features Natural Medicine & Veterinary Care with Dr. Shawn including his most recent book Unexpected Miracles: Hope and Holistic Healing for Pets.

And who’d a thunk it? Just discovered my out-of-print book New Choices in Natural Healing for Dogs & Cats –the book that changed my mind about vet care–has been fairy-godmother’d Kindle-ized by the publisher. Gonna have to check my contract and see what royalties I’ve got coming.

I’ve no doubt that the “new age” publishing will also become integrative and complementary. We’re coming closer but not there yet. How do I know this? Because the little dogs and big dogs are still “baptizing” and marking territory–and because the hardcover book is priced $2 cheaper than the Kindle version. Uh…hello?

What do y’all think? “Daddy, are we there yet? . . .” in either vet medicine or publishing?

 

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions–and to stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways! Hint: Pet Care in the New Century includes “cutting edge” medicine from both sides of the holistic/western med exam table.