Dentals for the Boys: Importance of AAHA-Accredited Hospitals


Pre-dental, you can see the tartar on Bruisy’s teeth! Pre and post dental pics below. 




A Healthy Mouth is Key for a Healthy Body (#sponsored)  

The first AAHA day will take place July 22. AAHA is short for American Animal Hospital Association – and our vet in Hillsboro, Oregon, Frontier Vet Hospital (FVH) is AAHA-accredited. There are a lot of reasons this is important — this week we’re taking two of the dogs in for their dentals or COHATs and to be eligible for accreditation, AAHA-accredited hospitals must pass a 900-point evaluation that assesses safety protocols, equipment, veterinary knowledge, and other fundamental areas of pet health care.

When I think about how important anesthesia protocols are and low-stress handling techniques — especially when it comes to surgical procedures — I know I’m in good hands since FVH follows AAHA protocols. One example, is that numerous practices have adopted the AAHA protocol of full mouth radiographs on every patient. “Radiographs are necessary for accurate evaluation and diagnosis,” according to the Revised AAHA Dental Care Guidelines for Cats and Dogs, 2013. With the help of rads, our Veterinarian Dr. Yung, found a fractured pre-molar that needed to be removed. Rads are very important. (Poor Bruisy – who has been acting like his nomal, happy self! you see tooth 206 in the above image is noted as extracted).

“In addition, AAHA standards require AAHA practices to provide intubation and general anesthesia for all dental procedures.” AAHA Corporate is the home of the fear free certification program so this another reason AAHA-Accredited practices are the ones every pet parent should be taking their family members too. It’s ok to be nervous as a pet parent when you drop your animal off for surgery. That’s normal but with these strict protocols you can be confident your pet is in good hands!

“Although anesthesia cannot ever be 100% risk-free, we practice very high standards of anesthesia safety and know that the risk associated with anesthesia-free dental cleanings are much higher than a controlled and thorough dental procedure under anesthesia,” said Frontier Vet Hospital.

Bruiser has a “junky” doxie mouth and is pre-disposed to developing periodontal disease. Poor dental health is also associated with more dangerous medical conditions like kidney, liver, and heart problems and diabetes. Since Bruisy (and Shermie at nine) is a senior, these high standards are important when we take them in for their annual cleanings.

About periodontal disease:

*I believe dentals are most effective when done under anesthesia, as a CVT I’ve seen lots of cat and dog mouths and it’s very difficult to see “under the hood” without the use of anesthesia.

According to the NAVTA Journal (vet nursing in action), periodontal disease is an infection caused by bacteria in the biofilm that forms on oral surfaces.

Knowing the signs is really important – see a vet if you notice any of the following:

  • Red, swollen gums
  • Increased drooling
  • Dropping food from the mouth
  • Whining while eating
  • Loss of appetite or weight
  • Loose or discolored teeth
  • Bleeding from the mouth
  • Decreased energy and acting grumpy

About AAHA Day:

AAHA-Accredited Hospital Day (AAHA Day) was created to recognize veterinary hospitals that have been awarded the American Animal Hospital Association’s top honor, AAHA accreditation. If your hospital is accredited, it means your pet is being cared for by one of the top 12–15 percent of animal hospitals in the United States and Canada.

Not sure if your hospital is accredited? Use the AAHA-Accredited Hospital Locator tool to find out. Nearly 60% of owners think their hospital is accredited and it’s not!

For all you Portland readers, there are 16 accredited hospitals with Portland addresses so there are plenty to choose from in the Portland Metro area.

FACT: Late last year, the Oregon Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners ruled that AAHA-accredited practices are exempt from state inspection. Oregon is only the 3rd state in the nation to do this (the first two were Alabama and Ohio), and we think it is a trend to continue.

Disclaimer: I only share information about products and services that I believe in and already fit into our doggie lifestyle and routine. #AAHA did not compensate me for this post.  

This infographic talks about what separates AAHA hospitals from the rest: 

AAHAInfographic2016_RGBforWeb | Facebook | LinkedIn | Twitter | YouTube

AAHA-accredited veterinary hospitals are champions for excellent care.

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Contest time! 

One lucky reader will have an opportunity to win a $50 credit to use at the AAHA-accredited veterinary hospital of that reader’s choice. Enter below! 


There are 51 Comments

  1. Look at you!! Your teeth are so nice and white!! My dear Pippa got her teeth cleaned a few weeks ago too! They even had to extract an incisor and a fractured canine! Dental health is very important!!

    • Oh just like Bruisy! We didn’t even know about the fractured pre-molar on Bruisy – I felt terrible. I’m so glad we had Bruisy in this week — glad Pippa is doing well!

  2. Emma says:

    We’re all about having good, healthy, chompers. Yours sure do look nice and shiny clean!

  3. We brush our dog’s teeth every day. So important for their health.
    —Wags (and purrs) from Life with Dogs and Cats

  4. Nichole says:

    There are many on the list near us, but our vet is not and I’m not willing to switch. :/

  5. kelly says:

    Teeth are a very important part of our pets health care. I’m so glad to see that Bruisy was well taken care of and feeling better.
    This is a great giveaway that any pet parent could use.

  6. S'more Dogs says:

    This is great information! I’ve known vaguely of this organization but didn’t know what they do. It turns out one of the vets I go to is accredited, and since the other is currently between regular doctors now may be the perfect time to change every over completely!
    Great looking “after” picture, by the way!

    • Thank you! These “900” protocols — are so important and after having both dogs under anesthesia I was super happy to know about all the safety measures in place to ensure things went smoothly. Bruisy’s breath is so much better now! 🙂

  7. Dental health is so important! Mommy went to the AAHA luncheon and learned so much.

  8. Elsie my rescue Yorkshire Terrier has suffered in the past with poorly teeth as a result of her previous owner not taking proper care of her pearly whites, so it is really great that you are highlighting this issue. We seem to have got on top of the situation now but it is so important to know what signs to look for.

    • Thanks so much: It’s so important – in CVT training we learned a lot about dental health and the long term impact of periodontal disease. The signs are so important – especially with dogs like Brui that are so stoic. God knows how long that tooth was fractured! 🙁

  9. Amy Shojai says:

    So glad to read this about AAHA! My vet clinic also is AAHA accredited, and that’s a big comfort.

  10. Bruisy’s teeth are glistening after the dental! It’s interesting how dogs can be so different, one of mine keeps relatively clean teeth and the other has to have regular dentals. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Rochelle says:

    I’m glad to learn that Henry’s vet is in that 12-15%! And what shiny teeth! 🙂

  12. We learned a lot from AAHA at Blogaws – all vet practices should reach their standards.

  13. Beth says:

    My vet was surprised to see that my youngest dog is the only one who needs dentals. The other two are pretty lucky when it comes to teeth.

  14. Thanks so much for the education. Teeth look marvelous too!

  15. Jean Dion says:

    Love your words about dentals. I know many pet parents think they can skip out on radiographs and intubation for these dental procedures, and a lot of clinics offer sort of cafe pricing, so people can lop off the things they don’t want. I always appreciate clinicians that take the time to explain WHY these things are important. If more people know a little one’s life was at stake, I think more people would be willing to pay for those things they might consider “extras.”

    Jean from Welcome to the Menagerie

    • Thank you! I know of some places here as well that absolutely offer dentals up menu style too. Rads for example are why our vet knew about the fractured pre-molar as it was the crown and the roots had to go! We try and take care of their teeth annually so we can prevent something awful… appreciate your comment!!

  16. This is such an informative article with lots of information most people are completely unaware of – thank you!

  17. Great article and good reminder that I need to get Kilo the Pug’s teeth checked. He will have to have anaesthetic and HATES vets so I have put it off. I am changing vets so will look for accreditation. Tried to enter the contest but authentication failed

    • Thanks for the head’s up on the contest app – I’ll ask about that and let you know when we’re back up and running. I hate putting old Bruiser under anesthesia but I was happy I did when I found up he had that fractured molar – he’s SO stoic. I hear you though. I totally get it.

  18. Cathy Armato says:

    Big difference in the before & after shots! Phoebe needs a Veterinary cleaning but I’m so worried about the anesthesia. Excellent post on the benefits of AAHA accredation.
    Love & biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

    • While it’s not 100% risk free – talk to your vet for sure about their anesthesia protocols. I had a lot of questions and felt comfortable after talking with them about any concerns I had – thank you for your kind words, big week for the boys!

  19. The DIY Dog Mom says:

    So glad your teeth are nice and white! Thanks for the great info on AAHA!

  20. Years ago I had a bad experience with non-accreditted hospital. My cat was having a dental and almost died because she was given too much anesthesia. The vet tried to blame it on a heart condition. So, we took her to a cardiologist who reported that she didn’t have a heart condition and her reaction was probably caused by negligence.

    • That’s horrible. I’m so sorry to hear about this – having your animal under anesthesia is hard enough but having the vet try and blame it away on something else? WOW. Did you send a note to the state board? That’s terrible, I’m glad your cat was ok… !!!

  21. Jodi Chick says:

    Kol definitely is overdue for a dental, but since we aren’t comfortable putting him under unless we totes have to, we’ve been working on it at home.

    • I think it’s awesome you’re working on it at home — my dogs are not great about me getting down and dirty with their teeth so I try and brush when I can but I’m not all that successful.

  22. Our vet is AAHA-accredited and we’re so glad.

  23. Carol Bryant says:

    That is so pawsome and I can see the teeth difference before and after. Our vet is great, we recently changed. We don’t have an AAHA accredited vet near us but I know it is so important.

  24. Oh small dogs and teeth. Mr. N’s teeth still look good after his dental but I’ll ask at his next appointment. I had trouble entering too.

    • yes! It’s a small dog issue for sure. Every year we have to do Bruisy. Thanks, I just talked to Wishpond and he thinks its the CAPTCHA, please go back and enter and if this gives you issues again holler!

  25. Bryn Nowell says:

    Dental care for our pups is hugely important! Thanks so much for this post. It helped to remind me that I should bring Bean and Yoda in for their dental exam and cleaning! Bean tolerates brushing, but Yoda doesn’t and because his jowls are so pronounced, it’s really hard to get a toothbrush in there.

    The AAHA accreditation really does give me increased peace of mind, especially when my pups need to go under anesthesia!

    I tweeted the giveaway for you as well!

    • Thank you so much! None of my dogs tolerate cleaning. They just bite the finger brush and start to get angry about the whole thing. Knowing all these awesome protocols – it’s safer for sure, and they require things like rads! Thanks for tweeting the give-away!!

  26. Rachel says:

    Wow, his teeth look great! Our doggie vet is AAHA accredited. Woohoo!

  27. […] One of my most popular posts was about dental appointments and the importance of AAHA-accredited hospitals. […]