We at The Natural Ferret strive to give the most current information we can find to educate our members. Lately, we are seeing more and more negativity towards our group because we promote safe use with essential oils. So I find that writing this article is needed to prove why we recommend what we do. We can not stop the spread of misinformation/scare tactics in other groups. Often the information is outdated and therefore considered unreliable. I wanted to mention the common saying amount people and ferret groups is “essential oils are toxic to because ferrets are like cats and lack liver enzymes to filter out the oils. Causing the oils to build up and create a toxicity.” We will be going into depth about the information we found and what exactly it means to us and the community.
I will be defining what some of the functions are and what some words mean.
UGT1A6 “is an enzyme of glucuronidation pathway that transforms small lipophilic molecules.”
It’s long name is UDP- glucuronosyl transferase or in short UGT1A6. So when it comes up you know what it is.
Glucuronosyl Transferase is the liver enzyme people state ferrets “lack.”
First pass metabolism “is a phenomenon of drug metabolism where by the concentration of a drug is greatly reduced before it reaches the systemic circulation. It is the fraction of drug lost during the process of absorption which is generally related to liver and the gut wall.”
The last is psuedogene “a section of chromosome that is imperfect copy of a functional gene.” These are some of the harder ones to understand if you don’t know what something is always ask!
The information I have linked and references have been found on the internet, a book and Dr. Melissa Shelton
also educated me on some things as well. So let’s talk about a few quoted I took from the book and study. I am quoting the book Animal Models in Toxicology
twice as it makes two impressive statements.
The first “The ferret does have the ability to form glucuronides with the aromatic alcohols (phenol, naphthols, etc).” This means they can metabolize the phenols in many essential oils. It also means they can metabolize different drugs too. The other quote “Glucuronosyl transferase activity is the ferret has been established.” This also proves that they don’t lack the enzyme everyone states they do. Last but definitely not least this quote comes from the study linked. “In conclusion, like cats, ferret livers glucuronidate acetaminophen relatively slowly. However unlike cats, in which UGT1A6 is encoded by a psuedogene and dysfunctional, there are no defects in the ferret UGT1A6 which could account for the low activity.” This also proves ferrets are not like cats. While the UGT1A6 is dysfunction in the cat, a ferrets UGT1A6 is a normal functioning gene. They say low activity because compared to other species in the study it is slower. So these quotes and references prove that not only do ferrets not lack the enzyme it is also considered functioning vs a cats. This is why you shouldn’t compare the two species as they are completely different.
So with the information gathered from the last paragraph I would like to talk about the techniques of using essential oils with ferrets that we recommend. The first technique is called the petting technique.
You put a couple drops of properly diluted blend into your hand and rub it together and “pet” the ferret, rubbing the essential oils into the coat. This technique is designed to be effective and therapeutic because the ferret grooms itself and it is absorbed into the skin as well. Now grooming the essential oils off is not considered ingesting it is considered buccal and mucus absorption.
So grooming avoids first pass metabolism.
The other recommended method is diffusion. Water based diffusion puts the essential oils into the air to be breathed in. So when you breath in the oils they are excreted/exhaled by the lungs. Then it is absorbed into the mucus that lines the respiratory tract during inhalation and being exhaled. Which also means that this method avoids first pass metabolism. So the point of this was to show that the techniques used actually avoid the liver for the most part. It may not avoid it completely but remember ferrets can still filter out the oils no matter what so it’s not a big deal.
In conclusion to this whole write up ferrets do not lack enzymes it is the complete opposite. Ferrets are much different than a cat and we should try to stop the comparisons they are two different species. As many know we only recommend AnimalEO for essential oils as that’s the only brand we trust. Dr. Melissa Shelton created the brand and if you have brand questions or how to use her oils you can go to her group and ask questions as well. I would also like to put in that Dr. Melissa Shelton taught me a lot on first pass metabolism and how grooming and breathing in essential oils work. She deserves the utmost credit!
References & Further Reading: