The internet is throwing a royal fit over images of Prince George’s 3rd birthday party. No, it’s not because he could be seen swinging barefoot on his parents’ wooden swing.
Instead, in one image the little prince appears to be offering his beloved pup, Lupo, a lick from his birthday ice cream cone.
But is this innocent display of companionship worthy of such uproar?
While it’s true dogs investigate unsightly objects and creatures with their snout and mouth, their tongues contain germs and bacteria just like ours.
“Bacteria will accumulate greatly in the areas of the tongue between the taste buds and other tongue structures,” says John D. Kling, D.D.S., of Alexandria, Virginia. “It’s not smooth. There are crevices and elevations all over the tongue, and the bacteria will hide in these areas unless it is removed.”
So sure, little Lupo does have some foreign bacteria in his mouth, but so do humans. And the bacteria are pretty manageable as long as you brush your tongue while you brush your teeth.
Plus, studies have shown that exposing children to dogs at a young age is actually helpful. It can protect kids from developing certain kinds of allergies. Susan Lynch, a scientist at the University of California, San Francisco, has discovered that dust collected from homes where dogs live leads to the development of gut bacteria that trigger an immune response in young mice.
In her experiment, Lynch found that mice exposed to that dust had a type of bacteria in their guts called Lactobacillus johnsonii. The scientists tried giving the control group a dose of the same bacteria. Both groups of mice were then protected against the allergen, but those that were exposed to the actual dust fared better.
The same goes for kids. Dogs introduce organisms from the outside into homes, exposing children to germs and bacteria they otherwise might not encounter until later in life.
So yes, having the royal pooch hang around Prince George may expose him to some bacteria. But it may actually be helpful in protecting him from developing certain allergies in the future.
Plus, they’re an adorable duo. So let sleeping dogs lie, and let the little prince enjoy his birthday.