03/08/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

5 Ways Pets Can Improve Your Life

Allergy Fighters

"The old thinking was that if your family had a pet, the children were more likely to become allergic to the pet. And if you came from an allergy-prone family, pets should be avoided," says researcher James E. Gern, MD, a pediatrician at the University of Wisconsin"Madison, in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

However, a growing number of studies have suggested that kids growing up in a home with "furred animals""whether it's a pet cat or dog, or on a farm and exposed to large animals"will have less risk of allergies and asthma, he tells WebMD.