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 “just for kids” 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.

Stay tuned–the VOTE comes this week for NAME THAT DOG and NAME THAT CAT!

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Do You Have a Pet Disaster Plan? #FoodShelterLove Tips Here!

This post is sponsored by Hill’s® .I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Hill’s® Food, Shelter, & Love® Program, but Amy Shojai’s Bling, Bitches & Blood Blog only shares information relevant to our readers. Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. is not responsible for the content of this article.

Seren is NOT a fan of the carrier–but it’s the safest spot for her. Image Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

I live in Tornado Alley, and this year we’ve already had a rash of damaging storms hit North Texas and Southern Oklahoma. Disasters happen all year long, though, and don’t discriminate about where you live. Cats and kittens, puppies and dogs and other animals are victims, too, and often animal shelterslready overstretched become the go-to resource during disasters. That’s where Hill’s® Disaster Relief Network comes in.

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Image courtesy of Hill’s.

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Image courtesy of Hill’s

Hill’s established the first-of-its-kind national network in 2013 as an extension of its Food, Shelter & Love® program. In its first year, the Hill’s network delivered free pet food to 50 shelters and veterinary clinics across the country in response to 11 major incidents – including floods in Colorado, fires in Idaho and Arizona, tornadoes in Oklahoma and Kansas, the fertilizer plant explosion in Waco, Texas, and most recently, the mudslide in Washington and tornadoes in the central and south regions of the country.

Hill’s Media Tour to talk disaster preparedness and disaster relief kicks off May 7th just in time to coincide with FEMA National Pet Disaster Preparedness Day on May 9th. Here’s a sneak peek to help you plan ahead, so that equal opportunity disasters don’t spoil your day…or life.

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Image courtesy of Hill’s

PLAN FOR SHELTER

If you must evacuate, take your pets along. It may be days before authorities allow you to return home.

If you’ve got to evacuate, find a hotel, friend, or other accommodations in advance that will let you bring your dogs and cats. Some places make exceptions for pets in case of disaster but not all accept cats and dogs. While my two cats likely would be accepted, I don’t know if my 90-pound German Shepherd would be as welcome. 🙁

If you must leave your pets or are away when disaster strikes, be sure to display a pet rescue decal on your front door or window to let first responders know there is a pet in the house. Include your veterinarian’s contact information.

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Karma likes cozy spots to sleep. Image Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

KNOW YOUR PETS’ HIDING SPOTS

You’ll need to find them fast so play pet detective and scope out all the hidy holes. Even better, teach your cats and dogs to come when called or take refuge in their pet carrier. Practice ahead of time by leaving surprise treats or simply turning the carrier into the mealtime spot, and “home of irresistible food.”

PROVIDE PROPER IDENTIFICATION

Make sure all dogs and cats are wearing collars and up-to-date pet identification. If you have nothing else handy, use a felt-tip marker and write your phone number and name on the pet’s tummy.

Attach the phone number and address of your temporary shelter, if you know it, to the pet’s collar tags. You can buy temporary tags or put adhesive tape on the back of your pet’s ID tag, adding information with an indelible pen. Write directly on a flat nylon collar or halter to make it easy for a stranger to read the information.

Be sure you have current pictures of your pets with you, too, in case of separation. My cell phone is full of pictures of Seren-Kitty, Karma-Kat and Magical-Dawg.

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Image courtesy of Hill’s

PACK FOR YOUR PETS

In addition to providing for human family members, have a “pet kit” ready to take along that contains a three-day supply of all the pet essentials, including food. If easily packed, take an extra towel or blanket for each pet. Don’t forget sturdy leashes, harnesses, carriers or X-pens for safe confinement.

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A halter and leash gives you something to grab. Image Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

Have you ever had to ride out a storm with your pets? How did you manage the situation? What about fire? One year we had horrendous floods here and folks had to flee, awakening with water coming under the door.

How have you managed during disasters? Did you evacuate and take the fur-kids with you, or were you forced to leave them behind? That would just about kill me…I’d likely risk my life and stay with them, if it came down to it. Please share how you prepare for the worst.

Be sure to watch this PAW-some video, too!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and get a FREE BOOK when you sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. You’ll learn about the latest book give aways and appearances related to my THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Weird Woof Wednesday: Knee-Jerk Reactions & Poopy-Puppies

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We’ve had two blogs in a row filled to the brim with writer-icity, so it’s time for a bit of SQUEEEE! puppy-licious fun. There are a number of weird behaviors, though, that puzzle even savvy dog owners. One’s enough to make you question your dog’s good taste–literally.

Coprophagia–sounds all literary-like, right? But that’s just a fancy word for eating (ahem) poop.

Ew! You might want to put down your McMuffin while reading this.

Poop eating can be nature’s way for mom-dogs to keep the nest clean, and Junior-Dawg simply copy cats the behavior. It’s annoying, nasty, and great fun for juvenile delinquent pups. Even the Magical-Dawg indulged in his youth, played keep-away with the crap and one time actually carried some inside the house. Oh yeah, THAT went over well, and reinforced the cat’s opinion of him.

Most pups outgrow the behavior. If you have a canine connoisseur of pungent productions (say THAT fast five time!), these 10 tips to stop eating poop will help.  Just take a look at that face (below) and tell me you couldn’t forgive that keep-’em-laughing puppy! In fact, read on for some neato news.

July 15-17, Petfinder.com is joining with over 1,500 rescue groups and shelters across North American for what could be the largest adoption event in history–in honor of Petfinder.com 15th Birthday year! That sweet puppy above with the goof-ball grin is Booger-Boy  and he’s available–just click on thr picture for a link to details. Betcha once he’s adopted (and you could change the name!) he’d promise not to eat anything you don’t want him to eat…except maybe a favorite sock that reminds him of his beloved human . . .

A less annoying but still puzzling behavior involves doggy scratching behavior. Does your pooch kick when he’s scratched? Is it a certain place if you rub him the right way, or will his leg jitter and jump with any scratch? The Ask Amy video below has some answers–but what have I missed? Why do you think dogs “fiddle” when scratched?

And do your dogs (or pups) eat nasty stuff? How do you handled the problem? Please share!

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!

Furry Friday: Lulu’s Furry Miracle

”Lulu

I couldn’t do foster work, I don’t think. When I traveled for Purina as a spokesperson and visited countless shelters, the hardest part was walking away from all those needy bewhiskered faces. Bringing a fur-kid into the house, only to later give him/her away into the loving homes of another, would be rewarding but –I know this about myself — it would flat kill me.

Thank God there are rescue organizations and individuals who can do this!

While it sounds romantic to raise up cute babies and unwanted dogs or cats and give them a much needed second chance, reality ain’t the same. Dogs and cats are dumped, relinquished, lose homes for no fault of their own but challenging behavior problems and/or health issues make foster care even more daunting.

Did I mention God has a hand in such things? And the human angels on earth sometimes are granted miracles–my colleague and friend Carol Duncan gave me permission to share the latest. It seems particularly timely because of the BOOM-BOOM noise phobias mentioned in the Woof Wednesday blog that caused Lulu–that gorgeous Border Collie–in the picture–such angst. You see, Lulu panicked during a thunderstorm and tried to escape her crate, resulting in severe injuries that required hip surgery. Yes, they can do amazing things these days with cutting edge medicine for pets–and the video puts a furry face on some of these techniques.

I’ve seen other video of Carol’s foster BCs, one called Possum that was so fearful–and the progress made until she actually PLAYED with Carol’s other dogs. Makes me weepy again just to think of how far some of these fosters can come with the right care. Now, it’s Lulu’s chance.

Carol writes,

“I’m almost afraid to say anything lest I jinx myself, but Lulu, a BC is being adopted on Monday.  Lulu is reactive to other dogs and needs to go to a home with no other dogs.  Plus, she has hip dysplasia and is recovering from an FHO right now.  And she has mild urinary incontinence.  She barks a lot, too!  And she is sound sensitive, terrified of thunder and fireworks.  She is currently on Fluoxetine and Clonazepam.  She’s probably around 6 or 7 years old — has a lot of years left, we hope, but not a young dog, by any means.

Who would want such a dog?

Well, a couple in El Paso contacted me.  Their BC passed away in February at age 15.  The wife is a high school teacher and is home for the summer.  They chose to wait until the summer to get a new dog.  The wife really liked the way Lulu looks and wrote to me.  They have a pool and will be able to continue her rehab there.  They specifically wanted an older dog. And the last time they had a thunderstorm there was 2006. They had a fabulous vet reference and their home check was conducted yesterday by a woman who is a herding trial judge who lives in El Paso.”

WOW! Who can dare argue that God didn’t work a miracle? Well, the Almighty and human angels, that is–the rescue organization, veterinarians, and of course Carol and her furry crew of doggy helpers.

Are you involved in rescue work? What challenges do you individually and your rescue organization face? What about dogs (or cats) with hip dysplasia–have you ever included water therapy for your pets?

The cool video, below, shows Lulu receiving underwater treadmill therapy (WAY COOL!) from the Dallas Veterinary Surgical Center, so that Lulu’s new family has a demonstration how to continue Lulu’s rehab. Carol works with Border Collie Rescue Texas which paid for a good portion of Lulu’s treatment–but Carol funded quite a bit herself.

Love doesn’t come cheap! Think about supporting a rescue group in your area. Have you had similar miracle matches–please share!

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!

Monday Mentions: Writer-icity, Dog Surfing & PeePee Dance

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Those who read the last Thoughty Thursday blog know I’ve been struggling with my back. I’m not supposed to sit for long periods of time and over the weekend had to focus on creating more puppy-licious behavior content. So I plan to keep the blogs pretty short-and-sweet this week. That doesn’t mean they won’t be chock-full of content, though!

I’ve collected some of my fav blog, article and video posts for today’s shout out. Enjoy! And please post your own suggestions for future Monday Mentions in the comments section.

WRITING SCHTUFF

Horror author Thom Reese on Growing Pains in Publishing

Author and terrific blogger Jenny Hansen asks Are Writers Now A Company of One?

David Gaughran’s outstanding blog covers writing and self publishing, and today asks Have Publishers Lost the Backlist Battle?

Kristen Lamb’s latest killer blog on Mastering Plot by Getting Primal

Ellie Ann Soderstrom puts writing, life and humanity in perspective in her PeePee Dance Blog

PET SCHTUFF

Dog Walker 8 has an excellent blog post on Pet Poisoning Dangers, check it out!

Curfew for Cats in Australia–say WHAT?

It’s not just dogs and cats that need rescue. Get your tissues ready–happy ending and AMAZING photos in this horse cruelty case detailed in Sarah K. Andrew’s Zodiac Blog

Let’s end on a happy furry–and WET note with these fun videos, enjoy! Do your cats or dogs love or hate the water?


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! By the way, I just updated the sidebar (on the right) with direct links to all the pet books–check ‘em out!