What does Parvo smell like

What does Parvo smell like?

Last Updated: August 18, 2023
correct answerThe Short Answer is:

There is nothing worse than the smell of parvo poop. In addition to being sickeningly sweet, the smell has been described as metallic blood, intensely rotting, and stomach-turning.

In this article you will know the answer to the query “What does Parvo smell like?“.

It smells bad when there is parvo. This is bad news. You know your dog very well you know his bathroom habits and you know more about their poop than you would like.

What does Parvo smell like

In the event that your dog acts differently feels ill and has a strong sickly-sweet odor coming from their feces then you must assume it is Parvo and you must act very quickly.  Parvo is a terrible disease that can cause your dogs death if left untreated. 

By the time you smell Parvo on your dog it may already be too late so you should educate yourself about this disease learn how to recognize it from the first symptoms and how to prevent your dog from getting it in the future. The best way to prevent Parvo in puppies is to vaccinate them.

What is Parvo? 

Parvo is an uncommon disease that appeared in dogs only a few decades ago. There have only been a few reported cases since 1978.

According to experts canine parvovirus infection (CPV) is closely related to feline distemper. Up until recently the virus only affected cats but it is thought to have mutated and crossed species to spread to dogs.

Dogs are susceptible to two types of this parvovirus. There is a type of CPV-1 that is found in dogs that suffer from diarrhea but it is not a deadly form.

CPV-2 is the one you should be concerned about as it can and will kill a dog if it isnot treated quickly and aggressively.

How does a dog get Parvo?

One of the worst things about the parvovirus is its resistance. Disinfectants cannot kill it and your dog may pick it up from an apparently clean surface weeks after a sick dog pooped on it. 

Close contact with the feces of an infected dog can cause Parvo in dogs. The dogs tend to stick their noses into any pile of poop they come across during their daily walks or to smell the rear ends of anyone they meet. 

The incubation period of Parvo is 4 to 7 days which is another concern. During this time the dog would not display any symptoms and will appear perfectly healthy but he is already excreting millions of viruses which makes Parvo so contagious. 

There is a high probability that your dog will get the virus if you run into another pet owner on the street with your dogs smelling each others butts.

Even if the owner cleans up after the pet the virus will remain in weeks-old dry feces or on the ground where a sick dog has gone to the bathroom. When spring arrives the virus can live in the ground and survive the cold winter days to emerge fresh and ready to attack. 

Viruses can also be transmitted indirectly if your dog touches or licks a contaminated object such as a food bowl or leash. It is also possible for him to contract the virus from the hands or clothing of a person who handled a dog that was infected.

What does Parvo smell like? (Parvo Poop Smell)

The dog targets rapidly dividing cells such as those in the stomach bone marrow and intestinal lining as soon as it enters a new host.

Usually the worst damage is dealt with the intestinal lining resulting in severe vomiting and diarrhea which is what ultimately kills the dog. 

Additionally this is what gives Parvo its distinctive smell. This sickly-sweet smell comes from the GI tract lining cells that are destroyed and expelled through vomit and feces.

What does parvo diarrhea smell like?

A lot of pet owners reported that their dogs smelled like Parvo. Even though it may seem like the dog smells like Parvo or just his breath what you are really smelling is diarrhea torturing the poor animal.

What kills parvo besides Bleach?

Parvovirus remains virtually impossible to completely eradicate despite the introduction of new cleaners with all kinds of claims.

Through decontamination the virus particles are reduced to a level that is acceptable.

When it comes to destroying viruses (including parvoviruses) BLEACH is the most effective disinfectant.

A solution of one part bleach to thirty parts water can be applied to bowls floors surfaces toys bedding and anything else that is colorfast or does not need to retain color.

Viruses must be exposed to a bleach solution for at least 10 minutes in order to be killed. Viruses can also be killed by steam cleaning.


Carpets and lawns which are not bleachable make disinfection a challenge. Watering down the area thoroughly if there is good drainage outside may dilute any viruses present.

Considering that the carpet is indoors it may be better to simply wait a month or two and let the virus die off before letting puppies go near the carpet.

What are the main symptoms of Parvo?

The virus multiplies within a few days and starts wreaking havoc on the dogs body. These are the main signs that should send you running to the veterinarian:

  • Diarrhea with blood (light yellow or mustard in color)
  • (Yellow brown or clear with or without mucus) Vomiting
  • Appetite loss
  • Loss of weight
  • Dehydration
  • Lethargy

The appearance of a puppy or dog suffering from Parvo will be poor. Dogs will appear weak and very much under the weather when they have more than just an upset stomach. You’ll also notice they smell when they have an upset stomach. The smell is described as sickly-sweet by most pet owners as well as rotting garbage by others. 

In conclusion if your dogs poop smells a little different than usual do not worry about whether its sickly-sweet or not. Instead take the dog to the veterinarian right away to be tested for Parvo.

How is Parvo treated?

A fast-acting disease parvo has no symptoms for a long time. An immune-system-strong dog might be able to withstand the disease longer whereas an immune-system-weak dog could die within a few days.

Put the dog on a bland diet and treat it like a common cause of diarrhea would not help at all. The dog will vomit any food you feed him and will have trouble keeping anything down.

Even if your puppy throws up give him water. Dehydration is the main concern especially for a puppy. If he doesn’t want to drink squirt some water into his mouth with a plastic syringe.

Continue doing this while you contact your veterinarian and arrange an emergency appointment. 

Paraviruses cannot be killed by antibiotics since they are viruses themselves. A cure for Parvo is not currently available.

Supportive care will be provided by the veterinarian such as electrolytes to correct the dogs bodys imbalances and combat dehydration. It is crucial that the dog remains alive and strong enough to fight off the virus.

An IV will typically be hooked up to the dog so that he can receive electrolyte treatment or he might need a plasma transfusion.

In addition to attacking the dogs immune system the virus also reduces the number of white blood cells available to fight the disease.

During the same time the dog might be treated with antibiotics to prevent sepsis.

Sepsis may occur once bacteria have entered the bloodstream once the intestinal lining and stomach have been severely damaged. 

How can I treat Parvo at home?

The period following a vet visit in which your dog is given fluids to correct electrolyte imbalances.

Chances are that your dog will be sent home if the vet determines subcutaneous or oral fluids are sufficient for him in his current condition.

The dogs medication must be administered and he must be monitored at all times. The veterinarian may also prescribe anti-nausea medication to stop your dogs vomiting. 

Feed the dog small meals of bland and highly digestible food when he is well enough to eat. Rice and chicken breasts (without any bones) (plain boiled) are excellent options for your dog.

In addition to oatmeal made from unprocessed whole grains without added sugar or additives ground beef (also boiled and unsalted) and sweet potatoes are recommended for dogs with Parvo.

The dog should stay on this special diet for at least a week usually two until he is fully recovered and can return to his regular diet.

Make sure your dog is well hydrated and watch him closely. Get him to the doctor at once if his health starts to deteriorate.

Dogs and puppies that survive the first 3-4 days will probably recover completely. It is estimated that if dogs receive prompt treatment they have a 60-90% chance of surviving Parvo.

If your dog recovers from Parvo he will be immune to it for life so you will not need to go through this nightmare ever again.

How can you prevent Parvo?

There is no way to prevent your dog from coming into contact with a highly contagious virus that can survive on a surface for weeks or months. Vaccinating your dog as soon as possible is the only way for him to stay healthy.

Because puppies are so small they can get very sick and dehydrated from all the vomiting and pooping caused by parvo. Due to the presence of colostrum in their mothers’ milk young pups are protected against this disease. Protection lasts until the puppy turns four months old. 

That is why it is essential to vaccinate your puppy at a young age usually around the age of six to eight weeks. Puppy shots should be given 3 or 4 weeks after the first one and then a booster every year. 

Additionally experts recommend giving booster shots to female dogs two weeks before breeding so they have enough time to produce antibodies to pass on to their nursing puppies.

How do you clean the house after Parvo?

It will be very difficult to clean the house once the dog gets better since the virus is so resilient. It is best to throw everything away the moment the dog gets better.

Beds bowls and toys all fall into this category. You should double-bag everything that might be contaminated and then throw it away. 

Use bleach solution for the rest of the house. You risk spreading the disease in your community by using normal soaps alcohol and other disinfectants. While you are at it keep the dog away from any surface that needs to be cleaned.

How to fatten up a dog after parvo?

Puppies with parvo are quite sick and it will take Max some time to gain weight. He should gain weight slowly so continue feeding him premium food and hopefully soon he will begin gaining some weight.


In case your dog is suffering from acute diarrhea and is unable to hold anything down smell their feces. Any strong and unusual smell such as a sickly-sweet smell should be taken seriously.

The dog might have Parvo in which case it needs immediate treatment. As you wait for the veterinarian to see your dog make sure he stays hydrated by giving him water. Donot give him food since he will probably vomit.

Parvovirus infection is treated with fluids to correct electrolyte imbalances anti-nausea medications and antibiotics to prevent secondary bacterial infections.

Theres a good chance that the dog will survive and recover completely if it receives early treatment. Ensure that your dog gets his Parvo shots on time if you do not want to see him fighting for his life. 

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Amanda Dogs Trainer

Amanda (Author)

With over a decade of experience, Amanda is a distinguished dog trainer. Her expertise in canine behavior has transformed countless lives, fostering harmonious human-canine connections. Through compassionate and personalized approaches, she empowers owners to understand and connect with their furry companions, creating a legacy of joyful tails and transformed lives.

Osvaldo Maciel Dogs Trainer

Osvaldo Maciel (Content Reviewer)

Osvaldo Maciel, a stalwart in the field with 14 years of experience, is a revered dog trainer. His journey is defined by a profound understanding of canine behavior, shaping unbreakable human-canine bonds. Osvaldo guides owners to connect with their beloved pets, leaving an indelible mark of happiness and transformation. His legacy shines through the countless lives he has touched.

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