AAHA Accreditation Requirements

Accreditation delivers real business results, from higher customer loyalty and retention to more annual revenue compared to non-accredited practices. The accreditation process also builds a positive, strong employee culture focused on quality patient care – which can help you recruit, train, and retain your team.

Membership also provides benefits including free subscriptions to our practice management magazine, Trends®, our scientific journal, JAAHA®, free RACE-approved online learning, an exclusive group purchasing program, and more.

In order to become an accredited AAHA member, a veterinary practice must meet nearly 50 mandatory AAHA standards in addition to other applicable standards. Veterinary practices of all sizes and types are members of AAHA; we celebrate and recognize the diversity of the veterinary profession.

Is your practice ready to become accredited?

Below are select standards and excerpts that rule out an accreditation as an option for a practice (until the standards are met), covering:

  • patient care,
  • your facility,
  • services, and
  • clinical protocols.

We encourage you to review the list below and then reach out to our accreditation specialists to view the mandatory standards and see how close your practice is to being accreditation-ready!

Patient care

  • Patient care must be under the authority, supervision, and approval of a licensed veterinarian. A board-certified medical director is not required.


  • You must have a facility (physical or mobile) that meets AAHA standards, along with appropriate protocols guiding facility usage, maintenance, supplies, and equipment.

For example, all major surgeries are performed by a licensed veterinarian in a surgical suite and your surgery suite must be single-purpose (i.e., not also contain your radiology equipment, for example) and enclosed.


  • Your practice must be full-service, offering dentistry services (unless your practice is emergency-only) under anesthesia as well as quality on-site diagnostic imaging and surgery services.
  • Services such as hematology, serology, microbial cultures, and toxicology may be provided in-house or by outside laboratories. Emergency services, or referral to an appropriate practice, are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Select clinical protocols


  • Anesthetic agents are administered by a veterinarian or trained practice team member under the supervision of a veterinarian on the premises.
  • A means of assisting ventilation, either manual or mechanical, is readily available and utilized as needed.
  • In addition to a qualified practice team member’s presence, at least one of the following pieces of monitoring equipment is utilized during procedures requiring general anesthesia, including dentistry and radiographic evaluation:
    • Respiratory monitor
    • Pulse oximeter
    • Blood pressure monitor
    • Continuous electrocardiograph (ECG) monitor
    • Esophageal stethoscope

Pain management

  • Your practice must consider pain assessment as part of every patient evaluation regardless of the presenting complaint and provide pain management based on the anticipated level and duration of pain, including all surgical procedures.

Patient care

  • 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 cannulas, oxygen cages, oxygen tents, or e-collars enclosed with plastic.
  • Animal-holding areas (cages, runs, and exercise areas) are secure, escape-proof, in good condition, easily cleaned and Adequate in relation to the normal caseload.

Next: The 7 steps of accreditation


View the 7 steps to accreditation

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AAHA’s standards were developed by experts in the field and are continuously updated to keep accredited practice teams at the forefront of the profession.

Reach out to our accreditation specialists to view all of the mandatory standards and see how close your practice is to being accreditation-ready!