Specialty/Referral Practice Accreditation

Designed for specialty/referral practices, this accreditation confidently confirms to general practitioners and pet owners that specialists follow equally high standards and understand the importance of communication throughout the referral process.


Practices must have a board-certified specialist on staff in each accredited specialty. The specialist only need work for your practice 75% of the time. If an emergency care practice doesn’t have a criticalist, that practice can pursue traditional accreditation rather than specialty/referral. AAHA’s accreditation specialists can help you with any questions; call or email us at 800-252-2242 or [email protected].

Specialty accreditation is available for AVMA-recognized specialties, including:

  • Anesthesiology (DACVAA)
  • Avian (DABVP)
  • Behavior (DACVB)
  • Canine and Feline (DABVP)
  • Dentistry (DAVDC)
  • Dermatology (DACVD)
  • Critical care (DACVECC)
  • Exotics and companion mammal (DABVP)
  • Feline (DABVP)
  • Internal Medicine: Cardiology (DACVIM)
  • Internal Medicine: Neurology (DACVIM)
  • Internal Medicine: Oncology (DACVIM)
  • Internal Medicine: Small Animal (DACVIM)
  • Ophthalmology (DACVO)
  • Radiology (DACVR)
  • Radiology: Radiation Oncology (DACVO)
  • Reptile and amphibian (DABVP)
  • Surgery (DACVS)

"We're constantly evolving and improving our medical services"

2019 AAHA-accredited Referral Practice of the Year award winner Pet Specialists of Monterey on how AAHA referral accreditation helps improve their hospital.

See their story

Evaluation on AAHA Standards

AAHA evaluates specialty practices using the same mandatory standards that general and emergency practices adhere to, in addition to specialty-specific standards. Not all specialties have associated AAHA standards at this time. Members and those seeking accreditation may log in to review AAHA's referral standards.

What are the referral standards? Here are a few examples:

  1. A receiving veterinarian should explain to the client the need/reasoning for additional or repeated diagnostic assessment and care.
  2. A receiving veterinarian should convey/communicate the services they provide to their veterinary community and also provide their credentials such as board certification, to the referring veterinarian.
  3. A receiving veterinarian should provide guidance to the referring veterinarian regarding how their fees should be discussed with clients prior to referral.
  4. The receiving and referral veterinarians should work together to create a relationship built on mutual trust and respect in all matters of communication between themselves and the client.

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