What’s in a veterinary medical record anyway?

March 10, 2020 - 4 minutes read

At the Dog Aging Project, we’re studying aging in dogs because we want to help our furry best friends live longer, healthier lives but also because what we learn about dog aging will help us understand human aging. Though they age more rapidly than we do, dogs get many of the same diseases of aging, and like humans, they have access to a sophisticated healthcare system. 

The primary care veterinarians of dogs enrolled in the Dog Aging Project are important members of our team! After you complete the Health and Life Experience Survey, we will prompt you to request your dog’s veterinary electronic medical records from your regular clinic. 

This record is very similar to the medical records your doctor keeps about you. Information about age, medical conditions, treatments, vaccines, diagnostic tests, and exams are all documented and maintained for the doctor or veterinarian to review and compare to future and past results. This helps your doctor, and your dog’s veterinarian, understand how your overall health is changing over time and what might be needed in the future. 

Here at the Dog Aging Project, we are using your dog’s veterinary medical records to help us understand how various factors affect healthy longevity in our canine companions. We’re interested in routine care such as wellness exams, vaccinations, and heartworm prevention because this tells us about your canine companion’s general health and preventative care. 

We’re also interested in the diagnostic care your dog receives during sick visits. This includes diagnostic tests such as bloodwork, radiographs (x-rays), fecal tests, ultrasound, and urinalysis. Your dog’s medical records also contain treatment plans developed by your veterinarian, which could include medications, surgery, hospitalization, or a specialist visit, and how your dog responded to treatment. 

We anticipate that tens of thousands of participants will submit their dog’s medical records. By comparing these records, we will be able to increase our understanding of many health and age-related issues in dogs.

Not all veterinary clinics use the same record-keeping systems. Some use purpose-built veterinary medical software, which schedules appointments, inputs exam notes and diagnostic tests, and creates invoices and receipts. Other clinics use handwritten records for exam notes and test results while billing is done electronically. Still other clinics may have a system that is somewhere in between. 

Due to the variety of record keeping systems and the large number of participants in the Dog Aging Project, we are only able to accept electronic medical records. These records must have been created with veterinary medical software, and they must be uploaded by the participant directly through their secure personal portal. Your veterinary clinic will not be able to do this for you. However, we will provide you with a guide to walk you through the process. It’s not as complicated as it sounds, and our team is always available to help! 

If you are not able to submit your dog’s veterinary electronic medical record, there’s no need to worry! The Health and Life Experience Survey, which all members of the Dog Aging Project Pack complete, provides us with vital information in identifying the biological and environmental factors that maximize healthy longevity in dogs. All members of our study, regardless of their ability to obtain a veterinary electronic medical record, are valuable members of the Dog Aging Project Pack. 

 

Content Photo: National Cancer Institute