As my husband and I found out this weekend, pets, like children, don’t always get sick or injured during regular business hours. This past Friday afternoon, my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Jade started occasionally pawing at his left eye. Upon closer inspection, Jade’s eye looked a little red and irritated but I could not find anything wrong. There were no obvious signs of trauma, I could not see a burr or foxtail, and there was no swelling. Since Jade had been groomed only a few hours before, I figured a hair had gotten in his eye and irritated it a little. He was not crying or acting unusually distressed and his appetite seemed fine (read “gobbled up any treat offered”) so I decided a trip to the veterinarian was not necessary.
By 9am the next morning, Jade’s left eye was swollen nearly shut and he was reluctant to open his right. My husband and I agreed we needed to visit an emergency animal hospital (our vet is only available Monday-Friday) ASAP. There was only one problem: neither of us knew anything about finding a good animal emergency center. I did know that I did not want to take my dog just anyplace, I wanted to go somewhere where I could trust he would get the best care available; or at least the best care available in Contra Costa County at 9am on a Saturday morning. I spotted an ad for a local emergency vet hospital that said it was AAHA accredited. I had no idea what AAHA stood for, but I assumed it was positive. I scribbled down the address, grabbed my husband and Jade, and we drove to the hospital. It turns out that choosing an AAHA certified hospital was the best decision I could have made – and the name, phone number, and address of that hospital has now been added to our list of emergency contacts.
When looking for an emergency care facility, be sure to choose one that is AAHA accredited. AAHA stands for American Animal Hospital Association. Established in 1933, AAHA is the only organization that accredits animal hospitals across the United States and Canada. Obtaining accreditation by the AAHA is voluntary and members agree to be evaluated on 900 standards of care. Choosing an AAHA accredited hospital means that you are choosing to provide your animal with top quality care.
Your best means of locating a good AAHA accredited animal hospital is to ask your veterinarian for a referral. You can also find a local AAHA emergency animal hospital at www.healthypet.com Just click on “Find A Hospital” and enter in your information. Write this site down and put the information in your wallet; you will be glad you did if you are traveling with your animal and need veterinary care. This site will help you quickly find a trusted place to take your pet.
If your pet has a history of medical problems, or you have an unusual pet (such as an iguana), it is a good idea to call the hospital you have chosen to put on your resource list. Ensure that they have veterinarians on duty at all times who are qualified to help your pet. And whenever your pet is left in someone else’s care (a dog walker, a pet sitter, doggy day care, etc.), make sure that person has the contact information for both your veterinarian and your preferred choice of animal hospital.