Research in big data, informatics, and bioinformatics has grown dramatically (Andreu-Perez J, et al., 2015, IEEE Journal of Biomedical and Health Informatics 19, 1193–1208). Advances in gene sequencing technologies, surveillance systems, and electronic medical records have increased the amount of health data available. Unconventional data sources such as social media, wearable sensors, and internet search engine activity have also contributed to the influx of health data. The purpose of this study was to describe how ‘big data’, ‘informatics’, and ‘bioinformatics’ have been used in the animal health and veterinary medical literature and to map and chart publications using these terms through time. A scoping review methodology was used. A literature search of the terms ‘big data’, ‘informatics’, and ‘bioinformatics’ was conducted in the context of animal health and veterinary medicine. Relevance screening on abstract and full-text was conducted sequentially. In order for articles to be relevant, they must have used the words ‘big data’, ‘informatics’, or ‘bioinformatics’ in the title or abstract and full-text and have dealt with one of the major animal species encountered in veterinary medicine. Data items collected for all relevant articles included species, geographic region, first author affiliation, and journal of publication. The study level, study type, and data sources were collected for primary studies. After relevance screening, 1093 were classified. While there was a steady increase in ‘bioinformatics’ articles between 1995 and the end of the study period, ‘informatics’ articles reached their peak in 2012, then declined. The first ‘big data’ publication in animal health and veterinary medicine was in 2012. While few articles used the term ‘big data’ (n = 14), recent growth in ‘big data’ articles was observed. All geographic regions produced publications in ‘informatics’ and ‘bioinformatics’ while only North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia/Oceania produced publications about ‘big data’. ‘Bioinformatics’ primary studies tended to use genetic data and tended to be conducted at the genetic level. In contrast, ‘informatics’ primary studies tended to use non-genetic data sources and conducted at an organismal level. The rapidly evolving definition of ‘big data’ may lead to avoidance of the term.