Inside Science: Characteristics of Scientifically Useful Veterinary Electronic Medical Records

August 8, 2022 - 10 minutes read

Posts in our Inside Science series provide you with the ins and outs of doing scientific research. We hope that understanding the process will get you excited about the cutting edge research being conducted by the Dog Aging Project team.

8 Steps to DAP-Happy Veterinary Medical Records Success!

Many of the insights the Dog Aging Project gathers are through its surveys and activities; however, we also gain valuable information from the veterinary electronic medical records (VEMRs) that we receive. Submission of a VEMR is not necessary to enroll in the Dog Aging Project longitudinal observational study, but some of our smaller cohorts like Precision and TRIAD do require eligible VEMRs for consideration.

We understand that there are many different types of records and would like to answer some of the questions we’ve received about what makes a good veterinary medical record for the Dog Aging Project (DAP).

A DAP-Happy record is one that provides us with a comprehensive medical history of your dog. In most cases, this type of record must be requested directly from the veterinary provider. Let’s take a look at the steps to veterinary medical records success and a DAP-Happy veterinary record!

Step 1. Electronic Records

DAP staff are only able to review electronic veterinary medical records. This means your pup’s record must have been created and updated in veterinary management software. These types of records will be typed, though there may sometimes be handwritten records or notes mixed in. When a clinic uses both electronic and handwritten records, we generally refer to them as having hybrid record keeping, and there are many clinics like this participating in the project.

Step 2. Invoices, Receipts, & Estimates

As part of our review and analysis, we look at exam notes, lab results, imaging results, diagnoses, treatments, wellness and sick visits, and much more. Unlike a true VEMR, invoices, receipts, and treatment estimates do not provide us with the information we need to fully understand your pup’s medical history. Generally, you’ll need to reach out to your primary care vet and ask for their comprehensive medical record.

Step 3. Necessary Information

We’re looking for a number of different things, and we know not every record will have all of them. That’s okay! To have the best understanding of your pup’s medical history we can, we need as much of the following information as possible:

  • Physical exam notes from both well and sick visits. Knowing how your dog is doing when they are healthy is just as important as how they are doing when they are sick or injured.
  • Preventive health history, including vaccinations, parasite screenings, deworming, preventive medications (e.g., heartworm, flea, or tick), and much more.
  • Diagnostic results, including bloodwork, urinalysis, cytology, cultures, radiographs, ultrasounds, etc.
  • Surgical notes, including findings, and follow-up.
  • Dental cleanings and other procedures.
  • Treatments and outcomes.

Special Note: If your pup visits a Banfield clinic, please request a “Medical Record Summary Report” which will provide all of the information needed for the Dog Aging Project.

Step 4. File Types

For safety and security reasons, our team is unable to open or click on .zip or HTML files except under specific circumstances. If these files are uploaded or emailed, we will be unable to access them. We also cannot review image files like jpg, png, or gif.

Acceptable types of files include:

  • .pdf
  • .doc
  • .docx
  • .rtf
  • .txt

Please be sure to only upload pdf, doc, docx, rtf, or txt files. If you have a file type that is not one of the listed types and aren’t sure what to do, our Concierge Team may be able to provide assistance.

Step 5. Short Record or No Electronic Record

If you’ve recently changed veterinarians or just brought your companion home, their record may be a little short. Some years, your dog may not need to visit the vet at all. You may go to a clinic that has handwritten records. That’s all okay! We’ll ask you each year if there are new records to upload, and you can let us know through your personal portal if you have new records to upload or not.

Step 6. Multiple Veterinary Providers

It is very common for a dog to see multiple veterinarians during their lifetime. Maybe you see one veterinarian for vaccines and another for emergencies, or your canine companion sees a specialist. Records from your dog’s current primary care veterinarian provide the basis of their comprehensive medical record, but specialist, emergency, and other records also provide us with valuable information, and we love to have all of this information whenever possible.

Step 7. Too Many Separate Files

We are only able to store 10 files within each upload task in your personal portal. This is a hard limit, meaning even the staff can’t circumvent it. If you have more than 10 files to upload for your pup this year, we recommend combining or merging files using a program such as Adobe Acrobat DC or PDF Sam Basic. (PDF Sam Basic is free and tutorials are available online). If you are having trouble with this, our Concierge Team may be able to provide assistance.

Step 8. Discrepancies

Sometimes your dog may go by a nickname or a show name, or the veterinary medical record is under a partner or family member’s name rather than the name enrolled with the Dog Aging Project. Occasionally, the dog’s age, breed, or some other bit of information doesn’t quite match what you know to be true. We understand. Please reach out to us at and include “Medical Records Discrepancy” in the subject line so we can note this in your dog’s record.

Getting Help

Our team provides lots of support for the VEMR upload process. We want to make it as easy as possible for you to share your dog’s medical history and for our research team to be able to access this critically important data.

If this is your first time uploading your canine companion’s records or you’d like a bit of a refresher, please check out our short tutorial video and refer to our helpdesk for VEMR frequently asked questions.

If you need further assistance or have additional questions, please reach out to our dedicated Concierge Team at for assistance and include “Veterinary Medical Record Help” in the subject line. The Concierge Team provides assistance if you are experiencing difficulty uploading or obtaining your dog’s veterinary medical records.

Staying DAP-Happy

Whether or not you can upload your dog’s veterinary electronic medical records, all of our DAP Pack members are valuable contributors to the project and we couldn’t achieve our research mission without you. We want to make sure you and your pup stay as DAP-Happy as possible! Thank you for joining us!

Cryss Arkenberg, MWS, RLAT

Cryss Arkenberg, MWS, RLAT
Project Manager