A fecal impaction is a mass of hard stool in the rectum and colon. A number of factors can increase the risk of developing a fecal impaction, and it is far more dangerous than constipation as a fecal impaction can be life threatening, and if not treated will gradually get worse and the individual could possibly die from it as the build up in the body cavity can put a lot of pressure on the diaphragm leading to severe breathing difficulties and other complications.
Constipation is a condition of the digestive system in which the hamster may experience hard feces that become difficult to expel causing distension of the abdomen. This is usually caused by too much water being absorbed from the large intestine back into the bloodstream. This can leave the feces dry, hard, and difficult to expel. However, constipation and fecal impaction is not the same thing, while they both involve the intestines the bowels and feces, they are two different problems that have to be treated differently.
A Fecal impaction is the term used to describe a large mass of hard stool or fecal matter that becomes immobilised in the rectum. Symptoms of a fecal impaction are very similar to the symptoms of constipation that can result in a distended abdomen. However, in addition to those symptoms the hamster may experience bladder problems, dehydration, and a rapid heartbeat, irritability, and a reluctance to be handled. As strange as it seems a hamster with a fecal impaction may also experience explosive diarrhea as liquid stools are able to past around the impaction it can cause diarrhea or uncontrolled leakage of loose stools, the diarrhea will not clear the impaction.
Symptoms of fecal impaction are similar to those of constipation, but are complicated when the impacted stool presses on other tissues and organs. Solid stool and other materials can back up in the colon complicating the situation further.
There are many possible causes; for example, physical inactivity, not eating enough (particularly fibre), and not drinking enough water, eating too much dry food.
Veterinary assistance should be sought in this case.
Bowel obstruction is a fairly common problem in individuals with advanced abdominal or ovarian cancer.